About the event
In 2018 the UN voted for January 4th to become the International Day of Education with the day intended to celebrate the role education plays in building peace and sustainable development.
Events are held around the world to raise awareness about securing quality education for all - an important sustainable development goal and human right. The day is also used to highlight the vital role education has in development, gender inequality and social mobility.
How to approach it
This is a day to turn student’s attention to the purpose of education for once, as opposed to its content. Doing so is a useful opportunity to reinforce the importance of reflection and mindful action. Ask: why do we learn at all? What are we doing here and why is it important? First focus on answers that talk about the personal benefits of education. After this, introduce the idea that education is also good for society as a whole. For example, it helps raise engaged citizens, a skilled population and it helps improve social mobility for marginalised people.
Additionally, you could discuss what kind of education is needed to make the world a greener, and fairer place. This might be global education, decolonial education or regenerative education. Work with your students to discuss what things we should learn in order to give us the skills, values and mindsets ready to tackle the world’s biggest challenges. It might be learning about new cultures or about the planet's ecosystems- it may be learning how to be creative or learning in a supportive, healing environment.
Finally, introduce the concept that learning is not just a structured activity found in the classroom. Show that learning can happen anywhere, independently of teachers and at any age. Get your students thinking about what they might have learnt outside school hours, or what they may have taught themselves. Ask: what do you want to learn that you don’t get taught in school? How can you find out more or learn for yourself? Show that this act of learning never stops and that there are always ways for adults to improve their knowledge.
Access to education is a human right - this means that everyone, everywhere, should be able to go to school regardless of who they are or where they live. How does education make the world better?