UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on the Taliban on Monday to reopen girls’ high schools closed since the Islamist group seized power in August 2021.
“From this platform, I am addressing the Afghan authorities: Immediately lift all restrictions on girls’ access to secondary education.” he pointed out during his speech at the Education Transformation Summit being held in New York.
Guterres added that “girls’ education is one of the most important steps to achieving peace, security and sustainable development everywhere.”
Similarly, he stressed that “education transforms lives, economies and societies”, after warning that “We know we have to transform education” because it is in “deep crisis”.
“Instead of educating, education is increasingly becoming a divider. 70% of 10-year-old boys and girls in poor countries cannot read basic text,” he recalled, after pointing out that this is because “they are either out of school or still in school but barely learning”.
This phenomenon also occurs in developed countries, “where education systems tend to increase rather than reduce inequality, reproducing it across generations.”
“The rich have access to the best resources, colleges and universities”said the UN secretary.
Guterres also stressed that “curricula are often outdated and short”, “teachers are poorly trained, undervalued and underpaid” and “the digital world punishes poor students”.
assured that education “must provide the foundation for learning, for reading, writing and mathematics, for mathematical, scientific, numerical, social and emotional abilities”.
Education is the ‘great divider’
“Instead of being the great driver, education is quickly becoming the great divider” in society, he said.
Addressing the participants of the meeting, he noted that “Everyone in this room knows that education transforms lives, economies and societies, but we also know that we have to transform education (…) because it is in a deep crisis”,
But the world will not overcome this crisis, exacerbated by the covid-19 pandemic, “by doing more of the same, faster or better,” he recalled.
“It’s time to transform education systems” that foster “individual development” and help people “learn with a focus on problem solving and collaboration”and help recognize, in times of rampant misinformation, climate change conspiracy theories and attacks on human rights.
Echoing a report by the International Commission on the Future of Education criticizing that current systems favor competition for titles, he asserted that curricula are outdated and do not take lifelong learning into account, teachers are poorly trained, undervalued and poorly paid, and technology is leaving behind the most the poor students.
Education, he recalled, must develop students’ ability to adapt to the rapidly changing world of work and emphasize the need to work together and take responsibility for each other and the planet.
For that you need funding. “This is the most important investment a country can make in its population and its future,” he said, and a major “global push” against inequalities.
In this sense, reiterated that the fund, which intends to mobilize $10,000 million to help 700 million minors from countries in development for access to quality education.
Even in developed countries, education systems are widening inequalities rather than reducing them, he warned after attacking the Taliban system in Afghanistan which has driven girls out of schools and universities.
According to Europa Press and AFP