UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for comprehensive reforms in the world education system to respond to the current issues.
Education has been a “guide and touchstone,” he said on Monday, the final day of the Transforming Education Summit, warning that it is in “a deep crisis”.
Speaking to the attendees gathered at the iconic Generally Assembly Hall, Guterres said: “I regard myself as a lifelong student…Without education, where would I be? Where would any of us be?”
He continued: “Because education transforms lives, economies and societies, “we must transform education”.
Instead of being the great enabler, the UN chief pointed out that education is fast becoming “a great divider”, noting that some 70 per cent of 10-year-olds in poor countries are unable to read and are “barely learning”.
With access to the best resources, schools and universities, the rich get the best jobs, while the poor – especially girls – displaced people, and students with disabilities, face huge obstacles to getting the qualifications that could change their lives, he explained.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 has “dealt a hammer blow to progress on SDG4”, the Sustainable Development Goal targeting equitable quality education.
“But the education crisis began long before – and runs much deeper”, Guterres added, citing the International Commission on the Future of Education report card, which clearly stated: “Education systems don’t make the grade”.
Dependent upon outdated and narrow curricula, under-trained and underpaid teachers, and rote learning, he maintained that “education is failing students and societies. At the same time, the digital divide penalizes poor students as the education financing gap “yawns wider than ever”.
“Now is the time to transform education systems”, underscored the UN chief.
He also called for a new focus on the roles and skillsets of teachers to facilitate and promote learning rather than merely transmitting answers.
Moreover, he advocated for schools to become “safe, healthy spaces, with no place for violence, stigma or intimidation”.
Also in this regard, the Guterres encouraged governments to work with private sector partners to boost digital learning content in a bid to achieve the fourth target, that the digital revolution benefits all learners,