24th January marks International Day of Education. As a way of marking this annual awareness day, we asked 2022 Diana Award recipient, Aakansha Sethi from India, to share with us why she believes education is so important for social change. Continue reading below to find out what she has to say!
Each year, International Day of Education aims to shine a light on the on the pivotal role that educational attainment plays in peace and development around the world. 2022 Diana Award recipient Aakansha’s passion for inclusive education drove her to become the Head of ‘Project Dhruvtara’ - a social initiative under the motto ‘empowering with education.’ We asked Aakansha why this day is so important: “In 2018, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed 24th January as International Day of Education, marking another red-letter day in the history of social change. This day is as important as its subject, reminding the world of the importance of education and the power it holds.”
When the international community came together to create the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, they conclusively recognized education as an essential tool for the successful achievement of all 17 of its goals. Sustainable Development Goal 4 aims to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’ by 2030. And yet, around the world today there are 244 million children and young people out of school. 617 million children and young people cannot read and do basic math. And over 771 million adults are illiterate. In the years since these goals were created, the international community have faced a host of challenges which have hugely impacted the achievement of these goals. According to the UN, against this backdrop of a global recession, growing inequalities, war, and the climate crisis, it is essential that education is prioritised to accelerate the progress of all sustainable development goals.
“From alleviating poverty to promoting gender equality” Aakansha says, “education never ceases to amaze with the change it brings forward to the table.”
Aakansha works to prepare educational modules to be broadcasted in rural and underprivileged schools in India. She has also conducted many resource drives to provide books, stationary, clothes, and food to victims of human trafficking. However, Aakansha believes that it is providing support in educational settings that is most important to ensuring the ‘inclusive and equitable quality education’ that the international community hopes to achieve.
“There have been multiple projects and strategies being worked to better the situation and build a future for these people, especially children” she says, “but there has been a blind spot among these highlights as well. The lack of educational guidance is as big a problem as lack of education in today’s time. It is similar to the situation where an individual is given a smartphone with multiple features and apps, but they are not aware of how to operate or navigate it.”
This is why Aakansha, along with her team in Project Dhruvtara, have launched ‘Chanakyavani’ series – an initiative which connects students who are in need of educational guidance with students who have the capacity and knowledge to offer that guidance. She believes that it is essential that anybody who has the mind and power to offer educational resources and guidance makes the decision to step up and make a difference. “It might not be that drastic for you to share a bit of what you have” Aakansha explains, “but it might be lifechanging for someone else.”
In light of this call to action from Aakansha, here are three ways that you can get involved in the International Day of Education.
1. Raise Awareness_
International Day of Education is a great opportunity to raise awareness on the importance of education and promote it as a basic human right. Speak about it with your friends and family, write a post for social media and share resources!
2. Learn a new skill_
Take advantage of this day to learn something new. If there is something that you’ve been thinking about diving into recently, now is your chance to give it a go!
3. Read more_
There are many posts online exploring the International Day of Education. Give it a quick search and see what comes up. We recommend starting here with this extensive resource from UNESCO.