Education is a Right, not a Privilege
DI KAREN KAWKAB
“With an education, everyone has an equal and fair chance to make it in life. But I believe education is not only about the syllabus. It is about friendship and also a place to discover our talents and allows us to discover our destiny”.
Education is the basic constituent of every society and known to be one of the best investments that countries can make to build prosperous, healthy and equitable communities. The United Nations in Article 26 of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights evidently states that “Everyone has the right to education.” This is further reinforced in Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 which focuses on Ensuring Inclusive, Equitable, and Quality Education and the Promotion of Lifelong Learning Opportunities for All. Globally, about 258 million children and youth are out of school, divided into children out of primary school, lower secondary school and upper secondary school (highest percentage).
To meet the principle of the right to education, certain characteristics must be present:
1) Availability: which means that the country/government is responsible for the provision of the necessary educational infrastructure for everyone. The infrastructure should be equipped with the material for proper functioning. In the period of the pandemic for example, it is also the responsibility of the state to a certain extent when it comes to the provision of the necessary equipment for studying from remotely/ from home.
2) Accessibility: Access to education involves three key elements: non-discrimination, physical accessibility, and economic accessibility. Everyone, especially the most disadvantaged, should be able to attend educational institutions, and no one should be discriminated on the basis of sex, ethnicity, geographic location, economic circumstances, disability, citizenship, membership of a minority group, or religion. Schools should be located within a safe and reasonable distance of communities, or, in the case of distant places, via contemporary technology. All people should be able to afford education, and states should gradually establish free education at all levels.
3) Acceptability and Adaptability: Curricula and teaching methods should be acceptable to students and, in suitable situations. This means that education should be relevant to the child's environment, needs, and developing abilities, as well as being of high quality and culturally acceptable. Needs of students might differ within cultural settings and diverse society hence education should accommodate those changes.
The consequences of quitting education are unlimited and mainly include increased vulnerability to unemployment, poverty, early marriage and even worse health outcomes; according to the UNHCR, educating kids on better hygiene would worldwide decrease the deaths of many diseases by 49%. Not to mention the economic trap that would happen to the country in the long term, as education helps to fulfil sustainable development and long-lasting peace.
We cannot but mention the effect of COVID-19 pandemic on education. Since the start of the outbreak two years ago, the pandemic has disrupted education systems globally, affecting the most vulnerable learners the hardest. It has increased inequalities, affected students’ mental health, and exacerbated a pre-existing education crisis. Lack of connectivity and devices excluded at least one third of students from pursuing learning remotely. Lastly, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest” as said by Benjamin Franklin. Education needs capital and resources; however, investing in it makes the person end up richer, as education often enriches the mind and improves the person’s financial state.