International Day of Education Press Release

Children

617 million children worldwide lack basic maths and literacy skills, according to World Vision Ireland

World Vision Ireland, a child-centred overseas aid charity, has emphasised the importance of education in the developing world ahead of the International Day of Education on the 24th January. The organisation said that access to education is deprioritised by displaced communities, who are fleeing conflict or persecution, but emphasised that this brings long-term complexities. World Vision Ireland works with local communities and Ministries of Education to improve access to and quality of education in the developing world. The right to education is enshrined in Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was a pivotal document in the history of human rights.” Niall McLoughlin, CEO of World Vision Ireland, said. “It was drafted by representatives with different legal and cultural backgrounds from all regions of the world in 1948 and has since been translated into over 500 languages, which reflects the universal appreciation for, and understanding of, the importance of these human rights, one of which is education.”

World Vision Ireland said that enrolment in primary education has now reached 91% in developing countries, but 57 million children at primary school level remain out of school. 260 million children and youths were out of school in the developing world in 2018.

World Vision Ireland is supporting education work in developing and humanitarian contexts, focusing on access to and improving the quality of education. It supports with physical infrastructure including classrooms in South Sudan, toilets in Mauritania, provision of school supplies, teacher training, and working with parent/teacher committees to encourage children to stay in school. The charity emphasised that improving access to girls’ education can be difficult because of outdated gender stereotypes and stigma around menstruation. World Vision Ireland is working to challenge this stigma with information evenings in local communities and menstrual hygiene kits.

“An estimated 50% of out-of-school children live in conflict-affected areas.” Niall McLoughlin said. “617 million children worldwide lack basic maths and literacy skills. This brings long-terms problems, including creating poverty traps and dependency on aid services. We have seen that school attendance is improving in the developing world but there are still millions of children who don’t have access to education, or access to good quality education. Our education programmes focus on literacy and numeracy given their importance in life. Education is the ultimate equaliser and the gateway to a better future for people in fragile states. If people are educated and skilled, this improves not only their career possibilities and income potential, but also the health and prospects of their family and immediate community. A child whose mother can read is 50% more likely to live past the age of five.”

World Vision Ireland said if every girl worldwide received 12 years’ quality education, lifetime earnings for women would increase by US$15 trillion to US$30 trillion globally.

World Vision Ireland is currently working on early childhood development in Jordan; child-friendly spaces and education in South Sudan; and literary centres and teacher training in Uganda. Their ambassador, Game of Thrones star, Liam Cunningham, visited one of the World Vision child-friendly spaces in South Sudan recently. Click here to see the video

Further information on Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: Article 26. (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit. (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace. (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Notes to Editors: For media requests, please email Fiona.omalley@wveu.org