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The right to an education has come a long way since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, with world illiteracy levels having halved between 1970 and 2015. However, with 264 million children across the globe currently without access to education, we still have a long way to go. Free education became compulsory in the UK in 1870, so it’s easy to take this essential human right for granted. According to a United Nations report, it could take 70 years before there are enough primary school places for every child. This means that a staggering 10% of the world’s children cannot read and write. On Tuesday 10th December, we must do our bit to “Stand Up for Human Rights” by focusing on the importance of accessible education and celebrate those championing equality for all.
It is no secret that a good education has the power to change lives. The UN has even stated that education is vital to meeting its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The global challenge for education is not just about providing access, but also ensuring progress. But to whom does this responsibility fall?
The barriers to education are numerous and multifaceted but it is imperative to understand the potential for a quality education to exert a lifelong influence on the health, well-being and financial prosperity of children worldwide. While the success of SDGs are undoubtedly the most powerful blueprint we have as a world to catalyse access to quality education and strong upward mobility, there is undoubtedly a smaller yet vital role to be played by businesses across the education industry as a whole. The divide between the haves and the have-nots has characterised the education debate for years and questions on how social inequality barriers can be erased to create a level learning landscape have continued to set the agenda.
While this debate rages on, it’s important for businesses like Exemplar Education and others throughout our industry to recognise the power we have to create real and lasting change in access to education. We have some incredible creative minds driving innovation in our sector, constantly re-imagining how the classroom of the future will look and developing new ways to engage our children creatively in their learning. The wealth of vision and talent in the learning industry means that we each have a level of responsibility to do what we can to ensure the continuing progression of access to quality education in every country.
Leading by example, Exemplar Education’s Corporate Social Responsibility partner, World Vision, is a leading relief, development and advocacy agency that is devoted to improving the lives of the most vulnerable children in over 100 countries across the globe. They focus on giving children access to quality and equitable education, by working with communities and local governments to improve the quality of education children receive.
Since their initial involvement with the charity in 2011, Exemplar Education has now teamed up with World Vision to improve the lives of children in Senegal. More than half of the population live below the poverty line in Senegal, with research showing that children are much more vulnerable than adults. Data shows that roughly a third of children born in Senegal are not registered and only 35% of Senegalese children receive education in early childhood. World Vision and Exemplar Education’s work in Senegal aims to increase children’s rights, including the right to an education.
As recently as November 2019, Exemplar Education was given the opportunity to travel to Senegal with World Vision, to see first-hand what their work has achieved. One village had no running water facilities, meaning that the increased infection risk prevented children from attending school. As a result of Exemplar Education’s involvement, every hut in the village now has access to running water, meaning that no children are unnecessarily missing valuable school days. Furthermore, each of our Exemplar Education six regional offices are sponsoring a child in Senegal, in order to support their growth, health and education.
Exemplar Education is committed to improving education with our affordable online learning programmes and we are extremely proud of our partnership with World Vision. On International Human Rights Day, it’s now more important than ever to put a spotlight on education as a fundamental human right that is key in achieving sustainable development on an international level.
Written by Dr Andrew Hobbs, COO Exemplar Education