24 January 2023

International Day of Education 2023: Education must be prioritized to accelerate progress towards the Global Goals

Cities are standard-bearers in the fight for universal education

According to the latest data, an estimated 244 million children and youth worldwide are not in school, 763 million young people and adults are illiterate, and fewer than 5 per cent of the population aged 15-plus participate in adult education in almost one-third of countries across the globe. Their right to education is being violated.

To mark this year’s International Day of Education on 24 January, the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning (UIL) is calling on the international community to increase efforts to promote a universal right to education, regardless of age, background or geographical location.

With over half of humanity currently living in cities and an estimated two-thirds of the population expected to reside in urban areas by 2050, local communities are key to ensuring lifelong learning opportunities are available to all by 2030.

'Against the backdrop of a global recession, growing inequalities and the climate crisis, lifelong learning must be prioritized to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. Only lifelong education can break the cycle of poverty, improve health outcomes, prepare people for decent jobs with opportunities to reskill and upskill, and mitigate climate change. We must drastically scale-up our efforts and translate commitments into actions! UNESCO learning cities across the globe prove we can make this happen.'

David Atchoarena, Director, UNESCO Institute for Lifelong learning

Investing in people at the local level

In line with this year’s International Day of Education theme, ‘Invest in people; prioritize education’, 294 UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) have positioned lifelong learning at the top of their agendas, thereby advancing inclusive learning from early childhood to the third age. By mobilizing resources across diverse sectors to live up to the international commitment of providing everyone with an opportunity to learn throughout life, UNESCO GNLC members celebrate lifelong learning and demonstrate how local communities fulfil the global commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals.

UNESCO learning cities celebrating the International Day of Education 2023
UNESCO learning cities celebrating the International Day of Education 2023
To mark this year’s International Day of Education, UNESCO learning cities from around the world host local events to celebrate the power of lifelong learning. Among the many activities, the City of Vinh (Viet Nam) hosts a writing competition on the benefits of lifelong learning; the mayors of the Irish network of learning cities present their lifelong learning activities in a joint message to the wider public; learners and educators from Kilifi County (Kenya) raise their hands to extol learning across the entire lifespan; La Matanza County (Argentina) showcases its technology trainings for older adults; and the Municipality of Elefsina (Greece) presents its lifelong learning programmes for local people of all ages. 
View our UNESCO learning cities map

Background on International Day of Education

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as the International Day of Education in celebration of the role of education for peace and development. Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.

Background on the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities

The UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities (GNLC) is an international, policy-oriented network providing inspiration, know-how and best practice. Members benefit from the sharing of lifelong learning policies and practices, the production and exchange of knowledge on key challenges and solutions, capacity-building and training initiatives, and participation in global events such as the International Conference on Learning Cities.

Further information

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