Universal Children’s Day and the Education 2030 agenda

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© UNESCO

Today, 20 November, the World celebrates the Universal Children’s Day. The Convention, which is the most widely ratified international human rights treaty, sets out a number of children’s rights, including the right to education.

The Education 2030 Framework for Action (FFA) adopted at a high-level meeting, held alongside the 38th UNESCO General Conference at the Organization’s Headquarters on 4 November 2015 sets out the commitment made by over 180 countries to, among others, ensure that by 2030:

All girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes (Target 4.1)

All girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education (Target 4.2)

Despite significant progress since 2000, an estimated 59 million children of primary school age and 65 million adolescents of lower secondary school age – of whom girls remain the majority – were still out of school in 2013.  In addition, many of those in school are not acquiring basic knowledge and skills. At least 250 million primary-school-aged children, more than 50% of whom have spent at least four years in school, cannot read, write or count well enough to meet minimum learning standards. Target 4.1 aims for the provision of 12 years of free, publicly funded, inclusive, equitable, quality primary and secondary education – of which at least nine years are compulsory.  These are building blocks of basic literacy and numeracy skills and allow children to achieve an array of relevant learning outcomes that enable them to develop to their full potential, , regardless of their circumstances. 

Furthermore, it is recognized by the global community that it is in the first few years of life that the most significant brain development occurs, and that children begin to engage in intensive meaning-making of the self and surrounding world, building the very basics for being healthy, caring, competent and contributing citizens. Since 2000, pre-primary education enrolment has increased by almost two-thirds and the gross enrolment ratio is projected to increase from 35% in 2000 to 58% by the end of 2015. Despite this progress, young children in many parts of the world do not receive the care and education that would allow them to develop their full potential. Early Childhood Care Education lays the foundation for lifelong learning, ensuring that all children and youth receive a quality and relevant education, including in human rights, arts and citizenship. Target 4.2 aims for integrated and inclusive policies and legislation that guarantee the provision of at least one year of free and compulsory quality pre-primary education, paying special attention to reaching the poorest and most disadvantaged children through Early Childhood Care Education services.

UNESCO, as the United Nations’ specialized agency for education, will continue its mandated role to lead and coordinate the Education 2030 agenda.

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