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International Day of Education

On International Day of Education - Invest in people, prioritise education.

By Jacqui Corcoran, World Vision Ireland Communications & PR Manager


The picture of a pile of children’s shoes outside a school in Somalia tells a story.

It’s a story of life today against the backdrop of one of the world’s most acutely distressing contexts: a vista of bleak, barren landscapes dotted with the carcases of deceased lifestock; a vista of people on the move – weakened and starving, but fighting to find food and water. It’s a vista that also, sadly, features human suffering on a grand scale, human demise – and the avoidable deaths of children, their families, their communities.

Somalia is a country on the brink of famine, where people are in a desperate struggle, a fight to stay alive.

Amidst the turmoil of hunger, another year of drought, the decimation of food-growing infrastructure and near wipe-out of livestock, our local teams are working to maintain some sort of ‘normality,’ for children.  

On this day – the International Day of Education -  we understand that a life without education is a life without opportunity. Our work on education in Somalia and elsewhere reflects some of our fundamental core principles: to help children, especially the most vulnerable, access quality education and attain functional levels of literacy, numeracy, and essential life skills.

When children can read, they can better advocate for their rights and help provide for their families. In the words of the UN: “without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.”

Poignant words as we consider that today, 244 million children and youth are out of school, and 771 million adults are illiterate.

The words resonate even deeper as we reflect on the girls and women in Afghanistan, who have been denied access to education.

This year’s International Day of Education day is dedicated to those women and girls. The theme this year is: “Invest in people, prioritise education.

Today’s focus is on celebrating the role of education for peace and development. That role is one that we in in World Vision are deeply committed to.

As the world's largest child-focussed independent NGO, education is a high priority for World Vision. Internationally, we are active in education programmes and advocacy across the 100 countries we operate in. We have locally-sourced staff working with children and communities in some of the world’s most vulnerable and fragile places, where conflict, extreme poverty, gender-based violence, and the acute difficulties presented by climate change can present very real challenges and danger. We’re overcoming those challenges and creating positive outcomes.

World Vision Ireland’s education-focussed work centres across a number of the 17 countries we are active in, where the story remains firmly rooted in giving children the chance to survive, thrive and live their best lives.  


Education is the cornerstone of our humanitarian action; it is a lifesaving action for children living in protracted crises, bringing stability, safety and hope for the children we serve.

Through funding from Irish Aid, we work with local governments to provide access to schools and quality learning. We do this through the provision of school infrastructure such as classrooms and latrines, which otherwise would not be there. We support teacher training on pedagogical skills to strengthen teaching techniques, and we work with communities to raise awareness on the importance of school and enrolment. We are addressing barriers to girls education such as safety in schools and latrines for and water for menstrual hygiene management. Led by the community we also have reading corners and clubs for children and adults alike, to help boost literacy and social cohesion.

Every story is a story of individuals. So in Somalia, where our work is vitally important for children facing the acute challenges I’ve mentioned, our Programmes and Policy Director, Maurice Sadlier recently met with Headteacher Abdirisack Farah, who, as Maurice described, did the opposite of ‘build it and they will come.’ He started a community school under a tree in Biyocoda village in 2015. In 2019, with Irish Aid support a 2-class-room school was constructed. Today there are 76 students and 4 teachers in the school. At the start of the school year there was 100 students, but because of the drought many families are migrating looking for feed for their animals.

Another impressive character, who stood out on Maurice’s working visit, was four-year-old Muqtar, who can hardly reach the blackboard, but was delighted to show Maurice how he can write and count to 10. Muqtar represents one of the main aims of our education programme -improved numeracy and literacy for children.

Another example of the work we’re doing is the upcoming Promoting Efforts Addressing Conflict through Education (PEACE) project, about to get underway in Mindanao, in the Philippines. The project aims to contribute to peaceful and cohesive communities in Marawi and Cotabato cities, with an overarching objective of building a culture of peace, tolerance and increased social cohesion.

Children and Young people are central to the achievement of a peaceful society and empowering them to increase their capacity and confidence as peace ambassadors, will be achieved through formal education and informal community structures. We are also excited at the prospect this project holds around scaling up World Vision’s highly successful Empowering Children as Peacebuilders (ECaP) project model.

So, to consider the theme of today’s focus campaign- why is education so important?

We know that education ensures people are better prepared to prevent disease and to use health services effectively. Educated mothers are better informed about healthcare and appropriate nutrition and therefore raise healthier children.

Education results in higher wages and economic growth, with each additional year of schooling seeing people earn 10% higher wages.

Education also supports the growth of civil society, democracy and political stability, allowing people to learn about their rights and acquire the skills and knowledge necessary to exercise them.

And finally, a thought-provoking takeaway: if all students in low income countries left school with basic reading skills, 171 million people could be lifted out of poverty, which would be equivalent to a 12 per cent cut in world poverty.

Happy International Day of Education.

To learn more about our work check out the education page on our website.