It is a sad fact that in this highly advanced society of unbelievable modernity in lifestyle and technology, Education as a basic human right is not available to all the people of the world.
Like all other human rights, education is universal and it is an entitlement everyone can expect no matter what economic status, ethnicity, gender or religion they belong to. Education leads the way to the exercise of most other human rights by promoting empowerment of individuals, freedom of expression and provides important benefits in all spheres. Yet, it is an increasingly worrying factor that millions of children and adults globally are devoid of basic opportunities to study, mostly as a result of impoverishment and weak economies.
World bodies such as the United Nations and UNESCO have formatted legal obligations concerning the right to education for every individual. These legal instruments provide the pathway for every individual to receive access to good education without discrimination. They recognize education as a most powerful tool that can help children and adults become economically and socially empowered and help them lead more fulfilled lives.
The statistics are staggering. Nearly 93 million children all over the world remained out of school, as on 2006; nearly 80% of this number lives in Africa and in poorer regions in South Asia.
The Education for All (EFA) initiative, formed in the early 1990s involves a broad group of governments, developmental agencies and NGOs who have endorsed commitment to “six primary goals” that will enable education to reach ‘every citizen in every society’.
However, since the initiative came about, the underlying realization also set in that these goals cannot be achieved by merely providing access to education; duration and quality of education at primary and secondary levels are extremely important factors. The guiding force of human rights values and ethics must provide a backdrop in classrooms to ensure that children who enroll in primary school complete their schooling.
The agenda laid down by the EFA went under the assumption that public policy enactment can help to transform education systems radically provided governments and political resources enact policies for implementation emphasizing capacity and quality development of literacy.
By 2000, the expected targets were far from met. The World Education Forum attended by 165 countries in Dakar, Senegal proposed the Dakar Framework for Action affirming the goals of the EFA for providing quality education to all by the year 2015; particular emphasis for educating and developing the girl child received special attention. In reaffirmation, two goals proposed by the EFA – universal primary education, empowering women and promoting gender equality were included in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The UNICEF is one of the five conveners of the EFA and a key contributor in achieving the goals; its responsibility covers early childhood care, education in emergency situations and providing policy and tech support.
Indeed, achieving the goals for providing Education for All requires sustained and committed global response and involvement by civil society, development agencies, NGOs media and world governments to help every child irrespective of caste, color and creed achieve and realize the right to a quality education.