“There are two powers in the world; one is the sword and the other is the pen. There is a third power stronger than both, that of women.”
― Malala Yousafzai, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban

SDG # 4 Transforming Lives Through Education (The World We Live In)

I am delighted to be invited as the Springboard Guest Blogger for September 2018. Not only as a Springboard Trainer do I realise the importance of lifelong learning opportunities especially for women, I have also worked as a volunteer for over 30 years on community development programs to improve access to education, health care and vocational training for women and girls in Australia and around the world as a member of Soroptimist International. www.soroptimistinternational.org

Literacy for Learning has been a passion of mine for decades reflecting my own personal challenges to adapt to the rapidly changing digital platform and the overwhelming amount of information that is readily available at our finger tips if we are fortunate to live in a country with internet access and library resources. In this particular series of blogs, I will explore how we are enabling women to have more control over their lives when they can improve their literacy and gain access to education and vocational skills that adds to their economic empowerment and capacity to ensure that their own children have better access to quality education.

So let’s begin this journey starting on 8 September which is World International Day of Literacy and the 2018 theme is Literacy and Skills Development. This year’s focus is on youth and adults within a lifelong learning framework that links skills, knowledge and competencies that are required to gain employment, future careers and lifestyles. At a global level the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been Transforming Lives Through Education since 1945. It is also the key agency tasked with leading and coordinating the Education 2030 Agenda which forms part of the eradication of poverty under the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and related targets to be met by 2030. In particular SDG Goal #4 that ‘aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

Education is not only a basic human right it is fundamental in building a foundation to deliver sustainable development within countries and globally through fair trade agreements. It is also an important cornerstone for achieving gender equality and peace. The global statistics on literacy are still appalling with over 750 million adults identified as illiterate, two thirds of these are women and 102 million are young people (15-24 years old) who lack basic literacy skills. Many of these young people have actually attended some form of schooling and still do not have sufficient reading, writing and numeracy skills to undertake basic work including apprenticeships. Even in countries where there has been an improvement in providing technical and vocational skills, there is still a number of gaps and mismatch in job opportunities, slow economic growth and the challenges of trying to maintain existing skills in a dynamically changing digital environment.

This has a far greater impact on women and young people particularly in developing countries as the way that people work live and learn are not keeping up with these new skills that are required to become employable and to contribute to the productivity of the organisations that they work for. So unless there are some significant interventions by government, business and civil society the estimated 267 million out-of-school children and young people will be part of the growing adult illiterate population.

There are three key questions that the ILD ask:

1. What knowledge and experiences can countries and partners share regarding successes and failures in promoting integrated approaches? What specific policies and strategies are the most effective? What are the success factors?

2. What are the evidences of impact of integrated approaches on individuals and their communities? What is their potential to motivate learners to participate in learning?

3. How can the international community better support integrated approaches with a view to achieve the SDG’s?

I welcome your feedback and suggestions of what is happening in your country to address these issues.

While it is important to look towards the future by taking affirmative action now, it is also important to do some reflections on what has actually been achieved over the past 70+ years and to recognise that there has been a concerted effort to improve opportunities for all through Education programmes. The links below enable the reader to review the work of UNESCO 1945-2018 through a pictorial gallery of photo’s on you tube  as well as a written publication highlighting some of the milestones that have reached  globally when countries and communities  come together to collaborate for the greater good to provide inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all.

Chris Knight
Director, Inspirational Connections
Freelance Springboard Trainer – Australia
Soroptimist International Global Ambassador
Womens Network Australia (WNA) National Rural and Remote Ambassador
Tel: (617) 0403177012
Email: grachris@iprimus.com.au

The views expressed by the writer are not necessarily the views of the Springboard Consultancy Ltd

Additional Resources:
UNESCO Transforming Lives through Education (PDF)
UNESCO and Education (You Tube 5:53mins)

This is a small selection of projects that also reflect the changing role of women in UNESCO:

• Page 18 – 1930 – Switzerland  Making international cooperation in education a priority World-renowned psychologist and child development expert, Jean Piaget, sits at the centre of this group of colleagues at the International Bureau of Education (IBE). Now a UNESCO institute, the IBE was founded in 1926 as the first intergovernmental organization in the field of education.

• Page 22 – 1945 – UK Champion of a peaceful future built on education Ellen Wilkinson, British Minister of Education at the end of World War II and President of the United Nations Conference for the Establishment of an Educational and Cultural Organization …

• Page 26 – 1948 – USA Eleanor Roosevelt welcomes UNESCO staff at her New York home A smiling Eleanor Roosevelt, Chair of the UN Commission on Human Rights, who worked closely with UNESCO, sits surrounded by staff from the Organization in the garden of her home….

• Page 28 – 1950 – Italy Founder of the child-centred education approach Pioneering educationalist Maria Montessori arrives at the UNESCO General Conference in Florence, in 1950, where she gave a speech. Montessori became involved in the work of UNESCO through her participation in the founding of the UNESCO Institute for Education, renamed UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in 2006…

•  Page 44 – 1956 – Liberia A “spirit” gives the green light to build a school in Liberia. A midwifery class underway at the Fundamental Education Centre in Klay area gives little sign of the unusual story behind its creation. In order to build the centre, one of UNESCO’s technical assistants had to negotiate with the “spirit” of the place…

• Page 46 – 1957 France UNESCO clubs, centres and associations help develop human rights education Discussions at a UNESCO Club at the pilot secondary school in Enghien in 1957. More than 70 years after the founding of the first UNESCO Association in 1947 in Japan, some 4000 clubs, centres and associations for UNESCO operate in more than 100 countries. This network promotes international understanding and education, and especially human rights education….

• Page 126 – 2000 UN HQ New York – 149 heads of government and world leaders from over 40 countries adopt the UN Millennium Development Goals. How many women do you see represented amongst these faces?

• Page 166 – 2017 Canada United for Global Citizenship Education Participants gather at the “UNESCO Week for Peace and Sustainable Development: The Role of Education” held in Ottawa. How many women do you see now?

2030- SDG 4- Quality Education- Ted talks
SDG4 Data to Get All Children in School and Learning by 2030
Why are more women than men illiterate? – BBC News
International Women’s Day 2018 – Young rural women lead educational reform

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