2024 International Day of Education

Building Resilient Education Systems that Promote Peace and Free of Discrimination

Catch-up program in Zambia

On the 24th of January every year, the world celebrates the International Day of Education. It is an opportunity to reiterate the role of education as a tool for peace and development and restate the notion of education as a human right, a public good and public responsibility. 

The theme for this year’s celebration as declared by UNESCO is ‘Learning for Lasting Peace.’ This speaks to rising cases of violent conflict with its attendant impact on education. It seeks to respond to demands to eliminate discrimination, hate speech, racism, and xenophobia from education systems. 

The impact of discriminatory and violent behavior on the human person cannot be overstated. It transcends boundaries, gender, age, and geography. Hence, more than ever, the world is committed to delivering education free from all forms and shapes of violence. 

Africa lives the impact of violent conflict, especially as it affects access to education. It affects some of the most vulnerable populations. According to UNICEF, more than 25% of the 742 verified attacks on schools globally in 2018, took place in five countries across West and Central Africa. Equally, the number of schools forced to close due to rising insecurity in conflict-affected areas of West and Central Africa tripled, between 2017 and 2019. At the end of June 2019, 9,272 schools closed across eight countries in sub-Saharan Africa, affecting more than 1.91 million children and nearly 44,000 teachers. 

Teaching infrastructures are lost to conflict just as populations are displaced. Teacher supply is disrupted, and out-of-school children increase with an attendant drop in enrollment. Survival becomes the primary ambition. In some instances, school-age children are conscripted into conflict as combatants. This comes with attendant physical, emotional and psychological damage that impairs their lives and denies them a learning opportunity.   

Whereas the COVID-19 pandemic occupied the focus of many education reforms in the past few years since 2020, violent conflict has negatively impacted education in Africa the most and demands as much response. Hence, our effort to build resilience in education aligns with the overall ambition of ensuring learning continuity in Africa and safe spaces for learners. This has been the focus of ADEA’s efforts, particularly underscored by the resolutions at the 2022 ADEA Triennale and the commitments by ADEA member countries at the Transforming Education Summit in New York in September 2022. 

Hence, our initiatives and programs have reflected and acted on realizing these needs. We have been committed to helping countries build resilient learning systems to ensure that disasters and conflict do not impede learning. This was the basis of the study we commissioned in 2022 and disseminated the findings in May 2023 on the Use of ICT in Education across 34 African countries.  Our efforts in partnership with the Mastercard Foundation have also resulted in the dissemination of the findings from an EdTech landscape assessment exercise in the West African Economic Monetary Union (WAEMU) region. Our Inter-Country Quality Note (ICQN) on Peace Education has also committed to promoting the ideals of peaceful co-existence through the insertion of peace education in school curricula across Africa. 

As an education policy forum, we represent the ideals of our member countries, which is equitable access to quality education for everyone. We acknowledge the pivotal role education plays in influencing individuals’ perception of the world, understanding the basic rights of all human beings, the treatment of others, and its potential to foster peace. 

At ADEA, we will continue to provide the evidence base that supports our member countries in developing resilient education systems and help them forge the provision of quality education and partnerships that will yield safe schools free of discrimination for all learners. These are the ideals we are committed to achieving for Africa. 

Happy International Day of Education!