UNESCO celebrates International Day of Education
Today marks the third year in a row the world celebrates the role of Education for peace and development since the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution in December 2018 proclaiming Education`s International Day on January 24th. This year`s theme Recover and Revitalize Education for the COVID-19 Generation highlights actions taken to protect education through the recovery and showcases best practices and initiatives across the world.
It`s been almost a year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 as a global pandemic before it adversely affected countries across the world. Due to the rapid spread of the virus, more than 1.6 billion children remained out of school worldwide. In Afghanistan, where the pandemic has impacted every aspect of life, the school closures have further deepened the already existing challenges and created new barriers for women and girls who are already facing inequality.
Despite the severe impacts of the pandemic, countries have adopted innovative and creative initiatives to power education for the future generations, especially in the field of technological innovations and the provision of online learning modalities for students. In Afghanistan, Education Radio and TV produced around 3000 school subjects and audio visuals which was broadcasted over local antenna and satellite across the country. However, due to the lack of access to internet connection, electricity and technological equipment, connecting learners to online learning modalities has remained challenging. This resulted in a majority of students, particularly girls in remote and rural areas, being vulnerable to the risk of not returning to school.
In partnership with Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan (CW4WAfghan), a survey has been carried out to assess the current knowledge, attitudes and practices (KAPs) of communities and key stakeholders in five provinces of Afghanistan with respect to educational access for girls in Afghanistan during the pandemic. The collected data showed that respondents (going from school principals and teachers, community and religious leaders, to parents and school-aged girls) believe that education is a fundamental right for both boys and girls, men and women, however, there is still a long way ahead when it comes to addressing gender discrimination faced by girls in accessing education. In response to the findings of the survey, the tripartite partnership among UNESCO, CW4WAfghan and the Ministry of Education is developing a communication strategy and corresponding communication products in getting girls back to school.
Within the framework of the Capacity Development for Education Programme (CapED), UNESCO Kabul Office and the Ministry of Education have been organizing a series of workshops on hybrid learning/remote learning, remediation and re-enrollment with the participation of a variety of stakeholders. Drawing on the UNESCO Covid-19 response toolkit, the workshops aim to strengthen the Government’s Covid-19 related policy planning and actions, and seek development opportunities out of the crisis, with the support of UNESCO Headquarters and Regional Bureau of Education for Asia and the Pacific.
The adverse affects of COVID-19 were a wake-up call for all countries and the international community to make education systems more resilient to crisis and more inclusive, flexible and sustainable. Now is the time to power education by stepping up collaboration and international solidarity to place education and lifelong learning at the centre of the recovery.