Quality schooling is a right and a necessity for all pupils, writes Andrew Hobbs
The right to an education has come a long way since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, with world illiteracy levels halving between 1970 and 2015. However, with 264 million children across the globe currently without access to education and ten per cent of the world’s children unable to read and write, we still have a long way to go.
Good education has the power to change lives. The United Nations (UN) has stated that education is vital to meeting its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but the global challenge for education is not just about providing access, but ensuring progress. To whom does this responsibility fall?
The barriers to education are multifaceted. But it is imperative to understand the potential for a quality education to exert influence on the health, wellbeing and financial prosperity of children. While the success of SDGs is the most powerful blueprint we have to catalyse access to quality education, there is a smaller yet vital role to be played by businesses across the education industry.
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 fair learning landscape continue to set the agenda.
While this debate rages on, it is important for policy-makers, educators and the industry to recognise the power we have to create real change in access to education. We have some incredible minds driving innovation in our sector, constantly reimagining how the classroom of the future will look and developing new ways to engage our children creatively in their learning.
Playing our part
The wealth of vision and talent in the learning industry means that we have a level of responsibility to do what we can to ensure the progression of access to quality education in every country. Within the UK, the recent PISA results showed “positive” progress has been made in international school rankings, which reflects our teachers’ continuous efforts to engage their pupils, using innovative and creative methods.
The UN’s SDGs for education aren’t just limited to lesser developed countries. Here in the UK, the attainment gap between more and less advantaged pupils is growing. A recent report by social mobility charity Sutton Trust, found that the new GCSE system in England is in danger of “further disadvantaging the disadvantaged”, with grades for less advantaged pupils falling.
Furthermore, recent reports suggest that our SEN system is failing children. Children with SEN are some of the most vulnerable in our society and with continuous budget cuts, these children will be the most affected. In addition, we have seen children’s mental health critically deteriorate, with a recent OECD survey revealing that children in the UK had some of the lowest scores of any country for “life satisfaction”. This shows there is a distinct need for intervention.
Education is a human right that should be available to all children regardless of where they come from. However, we must ensure that each child benefits from a high-quality education, in order to have a fulfilled life and a prosperous future.
About the author
Dr Andrew Hobbs is Chief Operating Officer of Exemplar Education, a UK provider of home learning support for children.