Carin Jämtin is the Director-General of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).
1. Education is a critical aspect of development and contributes to empowered citizens, better health and gender equality. Sida recognizes the fundamental role of education in human, social and economic development. What are Sida’s priorities for the education agenda in the coming years?
The starting point for Sweden’s development cooperation is that education is a fundamental human right and should be made available to everyone, including the most marginalized.
Sida has a holistic approach to learning with a focus on national education systems that contribute to improved, equitable, inclusive and gender-equal education and quality lifelong learning for all. But the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that education systems all over the world face enormous challenges in this crisis.
Building resilient and robust education systems has to be at the core for building back better after the pandemic.
2. Through Sweden’s initiative Drive for Democracy, the Swedish government will work with countries, multilateral organizations and civil society to highlight the role of democracy in equality, governance, human rights and sustainable development. What role does education play in reinforcing democracy and human rights?
There is a close relationship between education and democracy. Knowledge and good quality education are essential for broad and inclusive social engagement, critical thinking and political involvement. Countries with inclusive and free education have many advantages.
Education provides basic knowledge, including critical thinking and how to assimilate information, which in turn strengthens the ability to engage in society. We also know that more years spent in school lead to greater trust in public institutions and less corruption, which is crucial for strong democratic societies.