United Nations, Aug 1 : Exactly 20 years ago, the UN General Assembly decided that 12 August shall henceforth be celebrated every year as the International Youth Day.
At a time when the world is increasingly looking to young people as leaders and as a moral compass on everything from climate action to peacebuilding, to education, celebrating their achievements and engagement is more important than ever.
This year, the focus is on “Transforming Education.”
Over the last 20 years, the International Youth Day has engaged hundreds of thousands of young people on solving some of the world’s most pressing problems. It has also helped to highlight the challenges that prevent young people from realising their potential. Previous International Youth Days shone the spotlight on such themes as “Safe Spaces for Youth,” “Youth Building Peace” and “Mental Health Matters.” This year, the focus is on “Transforming Education.”
Quality education that is inclusive and equitable is critical to preparing young people to be active, engaged citizens and learners throughout their lives. The International Youth Day will highlight the novel ways in which young people, youth-led organizations, governments and other partners are transforming education to achieve Goal 4 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
On the surface, we are making remarkable progress towards ensuring quality education for all. In 2010, 63 per cent of children of adequate age were receiving early childhood or primary education. By 2016, that proportion grew to 70 per cent, meaning that millions more children were now going to school. But beneath these positive developments, a global learning crisis is lurking. According to the latest SDG Report compiled by UN DESA, 617 million children and adolescents – six out of every 10 – are not reaching minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics.
Access to education needs to be expanded to include youth in vulnerable situations, whether caused by conflicts, poverty, disability or other factors. Education must pursue equity by reflecting traditionally marginalized perspectives, including those of cultural diversity and gender equality.
We must also move beyond thinking of education through the narrow economic lens. It should serve a broader purpose of fostering intellectual curiosity and critical engagement with sustainable development challenges. The faster the world acts on these challenges, the better our shared future will be, as the impact of education will last for the entire lifetime of today’s young people.
How to celebrate International Youth Day 2019 The official commemoration of International Youth Day 2019 is hosted by UN DESA’s Division for Inclusive Social Development (DISD), in collaboration with UNESCO. The event will hone in on inclusive education as part of the overall theme. Ensuring inclusive education means fully including young people from vulnerable groups or in vulnerable situations.
The event will feature an online discussion with UN representatives, members of academia and young experts. It will be open to everyone willing to discuss the ways of achieving inclusive education. (UNI)