WHY EDUCATION HAS POWER

WHY EDUCATION HAS POWER

On the International Day of Education, Tzedek’s Director of Programmes, Leanne Baker, looks at education in the UK and abroad, highlighting that, despite its recent bad press, education is a powerful tool for everyone.

Since March 2020, our eyes have been opened to the challenges and inequalities in education. When I reflect on the way education has been talked about in the last two years, it is mainly with negativity. Education systems across the globe have been proved to be fragile, including – perhaps surprisingly to some of us – the education system in the UK.

Having worked in education for many years, and studied the subject at master’s level too, I knew all too well that there were lingering inequalities in education in the UK, despite the model of compulsory but free education available to all being adopted. This became clearer during lockdowns when children from disadvantaged backgrounds, with two working parents, or at poorly resourced schools experienced greater barriers to accessing education and learning from home.

However, at Tzedek, we’ve been trying to focus on the opportunities that education present. Why is providing accessible and equitable education important, aside from the economic benefits to the individual and society, and the fact that it’s enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Why is it so prominent in the Sustainable Development Goals – the shared goals that drive the focus of global development? Ultimately, education has the power to fuel long-lasting change. Education can and should be a common good, that benefits both individuals and wider society – a function highlighted by the United Nations for this year’s International Day of Education.

The narrative as we have moved through the pandemic has been one of ‘building back better’, of using this crisis to learn and rebuild our systems to be better than before, and education must be at the centre of this. We must transform together, through cooperation and solidarity. Based on these ideas, a UNESCO report from November 2021 proposes a new social contract for education, requiring the collaboration of everyone: from governments down to the young people of today.

Informal and life-long education are two means through which we can immediately transform learning. For us, as an organisation with a focus on sustainable development, there was one target in the Sustainable Development Goals that really struck a chord:

“4.7 – By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development”

This is a perfect example of education as a powerful common good. Through education we can enable more people to be involved in global development and therefore make life better for people around the world. With shared global challenges such as climate change, COVID-19 and the refugee crisis becoming increasingly topical among young people, with the power of education, they are in the perfect position to mobilise and collaborate to raise awareness and transform our global response.

“With the power of education, young people are in the perfect position to transform our global response.”

With direct connections with youth in Ghana, India, and the UK, we aim to build young leaders and activists for social justice through our programming, as well as to provide education on these issues for all ages. Yet, we can also all do this for ourselves as well – self-education is not only a powerful tool for the common good, but it is also easier than ever to access resources and information.

Why not start today? International Day of Education happens to coincide with another significant day for the Tzedek community: National Girl Child Day in India. This day is marked to raise awareness of the inequalities, discrimination, and exploitation that girls face in India. Events are held with the aim of promoting girls’ rights and increasing respect towards them, to reduce long-held gender biases. For several years, we have worked with partners in India to deliver economic empowerment and education programmes for girls and women.

 

 

Pictured above are some of the 90 poor rural young women who have successfully learnt computer skills with our partners EDUCATR in Tamil Nadu, India. After this training, on average the young women’s incomes more than doubled. Education has the power to transform lives. Today we would like to thank and recognise all our partners for the powerful education work they are doing.

  • To learn more about our work in India, click here, or, if you’re interested in our educational opportunities for young people, click here.

About the author

Leanne joined the team in 2019 after graduating from her Master’s in Education, Gender, and International Development from University College London. Today she manages all of Tzedek’s educational and development programmes.

 

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