The sixth edition of International Education Day – "Learning for Lasting Peace"

On the occasion of the International Education Day 2024, UNESCO and UNICEF call on African governments to strengthen their commitment to universal access to education, recognized as a fundamental right essential for building peaceful societies.

24 January 2024
International Education Day
UNICEF Burundi-A. Muco

Bujumbura, January 24, 2024 – This year, the day is celebrated under the theme "Learning for Lasting Peace", highlighting the crucial importance of education in promoting inclusive and democratic governance.

France Bégin, UNICEF Representative in Burundi, states: "Education is the cornerstone of a better future for every child in Burundi. On this International Day of Education, we reaffirm our commitment to working hand in hand with the government and our partners to ensure that every child, regardless of their circumstances, has access to quality education. An educated child is a step towards a peaceful and prosperous nation."

Burundi, deeply committed to promoting education, strives to establish an educational system that is not only efficient but also inclusive, aligned with international standards. While the country has made notable progress in increasing school enrollment rates, it is now imperative to focus on improving the quality of education provided. Despite these advancements, the Burundian educational system, like those in many African and worldwide countries, faces a major challenge: the "learning crisis".

Currently, only 46.4% of six-year-old children have access to fundamental education, and only half of them complete the first three cycles. At the fourth cycle level, the success rate drops even further, with only two out of ten adolescents completing it. Additionally, a concerning number of children, especially those of preschool age and from vulnerable groups, remain on the margins of the educational system. As such, the education of every child must be a budgetary priority.

The contraction of investments in the educational sector constitutes a major constraint to the full participation of generations of children, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, in education with a certain impact on the economic development and future stability of countries. Thus, it is necessary for Burundi to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of education spending. Basic learning is the foundation for all other learning.

Investing in early childhood education and fundamental learning for every child will benefit Burundi in the long term. Similarly, the qualification of teachers remains a challenge for improving learning. Burundi, which has already taken a significant step in the computerization of human resources, should continue with the development of clear plans to finance recruitment, and ensure the motivation of the entire teaching body to maintain the continuity of quality teaching/learning. Moreover, protecting children from all forms of abuse and violence remains a leitmotif for Burundi, which has adopted a code of conduct for teachers.

The UNESCO Office in Burundi emphasizes: "On this special day, we recall the crucial importance of education for lasting peace. UNESCO is committed to supporting Burundi in its efforts to provide inclusive and equitable education. Our common goal is to build resilient societies where every young person has the opportunity to learn, grow, and contribute positively to their community."

In 2024, designated as the Year of Education in Africa, Burundi is resolutely committed to building a robust and adaptive educational system, aimed at providing inclusive and ongoing education. This ambition requires increased financial commitment to education, transparent and responsible management of educational resources, and close collaboration with local communities to ensure adapted and effective education.

As part of International Education Day 2024, UNESCO and UNICEF, at the regional level, call on African governments to redouble their efforts to ensure universal access to education for every learner. Emphasizing the essential nature of education as a fundamental right and a major pillar of harmonious and peaceful societies, this call particularly stresses the importance of education in fostering governance that is inclusive, democratic, and participatory. Education, a pillar of peace and future stability, must be accessible to all, especially marginalized children. Burundi, committed to innovation, must also integrate digital and climate skills into its educational program to prepare young people for the world of tomorrow.

UNESCO and UNICEF reaffirm their support for Burundi's efforts to make education a realized right for every child, thus contributing to lasting peace and societal progress.

About International Education Day

Learning for Lasting Peace Learning for peace must allow for profound change and equip learners with the knowledge, values, attitudes, and behaviors necessary to become agents of change in their communities. The foundations of more peaceful, just, and sustainable societies are ensured by education, a force that permeates all facets of our daily lives and our future prospects. Faced with intensifying climate change, democratic erosion, persistent inequalities, increasing discrimination, hate speech, violence, and conflicts on a global scale, education appears as a powerful tool to address and prevent these challenges in the future. Furthermore, when designed and implemented effectively, education becomes a long-term investment with increasing returns. A genuine commitment to peace is more urgent than ever: education plays a central role in this effort.

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