His Excellency Lula Da Silva, former president of Brazil, stressed the need to prioritize education to ensure a prosperous future and a decent life. “Not only politicians have the responsibility to change the world for the better, society also has its own share,” he stated.
“Education is a prerequisite for nation-building and change. We should ensure education for poor children. The poor are not the problem. They are rather part of the solution to countries’ problems through proper orientation,” he added.
The statement was an excerpt from Da Silva’s address at the opening session of the International Virtual Symposium. The Islamic World Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) organized yesterday the event under the theme “Education and ‘the Societies We Want’ Initiative.” The symposium brought together many education ministers of ICESCO’s Member States and high-level international figures and specialists.
Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, ICESCO Director-General (DG), chaired the opening session. He affirmed that “the Organization launched ‘the Societies We Want’ Initiative during the lockdown period to build healthy, peaceful, prosperous, inclusive, resilient, and sustainable societies.”
“Education is the solution to eliminate gender discrimination and poverty, reduce mortality, eradicate diseases, and promote peace,” he added.
Dr. AlMalik also stated that the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in the biggest disorder of education systems throughout history, pointing out that the closure of educational institutions influenced nearly 1.6 billion learners in 190 countries worldwide and almost 99% in low and middle-income countries.
“Efforts should be joined to overcome the repercussions of the pandemic, reconsider the educational systems, and adopt innovative educational methods to build the education we want in the future. As a foresight organization, ICESCO adopts this issue and will assist the Member States to build their educational systems,” he stressed.
ICESCO’s DG also warned that the “learning poverty” indicator in low and middle-income countries indicates that 53% of 10-year-old children are unable to read or understand a simple story. He continued that girls and women are still underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
The situation is significant despite the efforts exerted to provide education and reduce dropout rates.
“Many countries, particularly in Africa, still face difficulties with access to the internet. Thus, support should be directed to poor countries and vulnerable societies through an educational system that keeps up with changes,” he stressed.
In his address, Mr. Kailash Satyarthi, Nobel Peace Prize laureate in 2014, stated that education is a right for all, and no child should be deprived of this right. He called for joint action to develop a real program to ensure the right of education for all, build partnerships for social protection worldwide, and benefit the marginalized groups from the budgets allocated to counter the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mr. Satyarthi underscored the necessity to call on the international community to increase the budget allocated to counter the COVID-19 pandemic internationally, amounting to 8 trillion dollars, raise the proportion devoted to poor countries from 0.3% to 20%, and provide free vaccines of COVID-19 for all.
Ms. Alice Albright, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Global Partnership for Education, said that the societies we want cannot be built without ensuring quality education for children. The CEO stressed that education is not only for the future of children, it also constitutes a key means for achieving prosperity and spreading peace worldwide.
“Educated girls are best able to lift their families from poverty, immunize their children and enroll them in schools,” she added.