Leveraging 2020 IDE theme to interrogate human problems
Although the 2020 International Day of Education (IDE) may have come and gone, UJUNWA ATUEYI writes that the lessons entrenched in the celebration should not be allowed to vanish into thin air.
Adapting the theme of this year’s International Day of Education (IDE) at all levels of education will undoubtedly bring about the long desired change and development in the country.
The theme, “Learning for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace,” as captured by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), sums up the mammoth problems confronting human existence. It also revealed how education could be used to tackle the problems.Admittedly, stakeholders across the globe after reviewing the theme said the world would witness monumental change, if teaching and learning across board could be tailored towards it.
Meanwhile, observers had earlier stated that Nigeria and other developing nations have nothing to celebrate on the day, notwithstanding, the country joined other nations of the world to celebrate IDE last Friday, January 24, 2020.The United Nations (UN) General Assembly declared it a special day to honour education and its centrality to human well-being and sustainable development.
Interestingly, UNESCO and its development partners designed the 2020 celebration in a manner that positioned education and the learning it enables as humanity’s greatest renewable resource and reaffirm the role of education as a fundamental right and a public good.They demonstrated many ways through which learning could empower people, preserve the planet, build shared prosperity and foster peace, at the same time upholding the argument that education is central to human wellbeing.
According to UNESCO, “the theme highlighted the integrated nature of education, its humanistic aims, as well as its centrality to our collective development ambitions.”On learning for people, the organisation said there is need for a humanistic approach to education, and its mission must be to help people develop their talents fully and to realise their creative potentials.
This they said must include living responsibly for their own lives and having the capacity to contribute to society. “Education is also a powerful catalyst for combating poverty and inequality, improving health and wellbeing, overcoming discrimination. It is the key to achieving gender equality and it is vital for individuals to live healthy and make informed decisions for self, family, and communities. Education enables man to confront multidimensional social challenges; strengthens democracy and the rule of law, as well as enhance equality by empowering vulnerable populations.”
On learning for planet, it informed that individual and collective human actions are putting immense strain on the planet and the life forms it supports, thus, formal and informal learning opportunities can play a major part in the transformation needed to realise more environmentally sustainable societies.
Since education shapes values and perspective, collaborative initiatives among government, private sectors, non-governmental organisations and good spirited individuals were recommended in this regard.
For prosperity, UNESCO said education including vocational skills development is essential for inclusive growth that leaves no one behind. “Analysis conducted by UNESCO indicates that if all people completed secondary school education as called by SDG4, world poverty could be cut in half.”On peace, the body said the persistence violence and armed conflict in many parts of the world undermine all human rights and too often violate the right to education.
“Education is critical to preventing violence and achieving sustainable peace. A recent study drawing on data from 100 countries over 50 years found that those with wider education gaps were more likely to be in conflict. Education plays a vital role in peace building and reconciliation.”
They, therefore, advised that government and school managers should develop education initiatives that preaches and encourages peaceful coexistence.However, some stakeholders who spoke with The Guardian on the suitability of the theme advised the Federal Government, as well as education managers at all levels of education in the country, to maximise the thematic approach captured by UNESCO in the interest of young leaners.
They affirmed that when a nation leverages on good prospects, it aggregates and organises existing resources towards success. Emeritus President/Vice Chancellor, Babcock University, Prof. James Kayode Makinde, was one of those who lauded the theme of this year’s IDE celebration, but thereafter, cautioned government at all levels as well as education managers, not to pay lip service to the issues raised.
Makinde, a professor of Political Science, Administration and Religion, said: “UNESCO’s thematic approach to education is very helpful in focusing global attention on specific aspects of instruction and capacity building in 21st century’s knowledge-driven economy. The theme “Learning for People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace” couldn’t be more pertinent in its currency in and age of “#Metoo#” Movement, cultural, religious and social diversity, sexual orientation confusion, and climate change impact on global economy and its implications for world peace.
“The attention on learning cuts across all generations and world locations. Nigeria and other developing nations need not just to parrot it as an international slogan with no relevance, but be intentional in our expropriating its potentials for local content application addressing our own peculiar needs and situations which are myriad and complex.”
He further stated that policy makers in government and in the industry especially, have a huge role to play in this regards.“They need to design and apply policies, particularly in the areas of technology, agriculture, healthcare and security, adapted to the local geopolitical realities to encourage creativity and commitment of the youth who are today’s vast demographic majority in order to avert such future crises as would explode the population beyond the sufficiency of available resources, especially the non-elastic ones like land, water and air.”
Former Vice Chancellor of Bells University of Technology, Prof. Isaac Adebayo Adeyemi, who also commended the theme, affirmed that it is all encompassing and will address human problems if adequately integrated into teaching and learning.He said: “I see the theme as an all inclusive approach to education and to uplift the people. All-inclusive in the sense that it covers both formal and informal education. It could be seen as education that cuts across all ages regardless of background, experience, exposure and status. One principle of education is that to knowledge, there is no end. Education is from cradle to the grave and as such as long as one is on this planet one must continue to learn either in terms of developments in technology, medical sciences, philosophy and the basis of our existences on this planet earth.
“We currently live in a global village and in a world driven by massive output of knowledge, that is a world that thrives on knowledge economy. As such, individuals and or any nation that fails to jump into this train of knowledge will be left behind which unfortunately has been the fortune of underdeveloped or is it developing country like Nigeria.”
As mentioned above, he continued, “Unless and until Nigeria adopts an holistic approach to education, we shall continue to be in the ‘wilderness’ of economic slavery. Therefore, by adopting a broad based education that cuts across gender, age, status, among others, there will be an improvement in the quality of service delivery. Furthermore, government will find it easier to carry people along with their programmes and it will eventually lead to even development. The ripples will be more in better living conditions, enhancement of contributions to social and economic development, improved quality living and a wider horizon on world affairs from all perspectives.”
Urging government and education managers to leverage on the theme and ensure learners get the best out of it, Adeyemi said, “To me, delivery of education with the above theme at local, state and national levels is sine qua non which must be addressed at all tiers of our education system. It should not be seen as education for the formal sector alone but more importantly for the informal sector.”
He also suggested that adult education should be revived so that Nigeria can maximise dividends of education. “Time there was when adult education was given prominence which I think has been relegated to the background. Nomadic education and education for the underprivileged, physically challenged, the aged and other special groups have not been given the prominence they deserve.
“While special programmes should be developed and implemented for those without any formal education, it is important to have continuous in service trainings for different categories of workers. Furthermore, for different categories of professionals, professional bodies should develop on-line programmes and trainings in conjunction with employers of labour. They should also ensure that promotion is based on acquisition of new knowledge.”He further stated that implementing the four types of learning recommended by UNESCO would guarantee an education that ensures people differentiate between what is wrong and right.
“Such education would also ensure that citizens are alive to their responsibilities. To me, the focus of such an education should be both on the political class and the electorates. The political class, whether in the executive or legislative arm, should have a proper understanding of governance, which calls for delivery of dividends of democracy that will ensure development in all facets of life regardless of who the political opponents are; that is no selective development. “On the part of the electorates, they should be aware of their rights and privileges in a democratic set up and ensure sustenance irrespective of those in power. Education that ensures all and sundry perform their civic responsibilities willingly and responsibly, regardless of status.”
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