International Day of Education 2024: Advancing Learning for Lasting Peace Joint Statement by UNESCO and UNICEF in sub-Saharan Africa

(Adapted to Mozambique)

25 January 2024
Dia Internacional da Educação 2024: Promover a aprendizagem para uma paz duradoura

Dakar/Harare/Nairobi/Yaoundé/Maputo, 24 January 2024 – On the International Day of Education, dedicated to Learning for Lasting Peace, we reaffirm our commitment to supporting governments in Africa to provide universal access to quality education for every child. Recognizing education as an inherent right and a fundamental pillar for peaceful societies, the call emphasizes the pivotal role of education in fostering inclusive, democratic, and participatory governance.

“We commend African governments for showing leadership at the Transforming Education Summit in discussing solutions to achieve inclusive and equitable quality education for all by 2030 and reiterating their commitments towards education as a basic human right.

Despite the progress made in recent decades, we acknowledge challenges that persist in achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on education of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. More than one in four (29 per cent) school-age children were still out of school on the continent, with a concerning statistic revealing that the out-of-school population in sub-Saharan Africa increased by 12 million over 2015–2021 (UNESCO Global Education Monitoring Report, 2023). Quality is also of concern even for those in school: 9 out of 10 children in sub-Saharan Africa could not read and understand a simple text by the age of 10.

It is therefore important that governments and partners maintain education at the top of the political agenda, emphasizing the importance of equitable domestic public financing. Education is the best long-term investment for building peaceful and sustainable societies.

In 2024, which the African Union has designated as the Year of Education, we call for accelerated progress towards achieving SDG4. The shared mission involves turning high-level commitments from the Transforming Education Summit into concrete actions, equipping African learners with the skills, values, attitudes and knowledge that are essential for fully integrating into society and having the best possible future.

We urge governments and partners to strengthen efforts to:

  • Promote equitable domestic public financing for education, prioritizing the most vulnerable children. This will help reduce disparities among learners and reach universal coverage. Countries with higher learning and years of quality schooling experience fewer conflicts and an increase in safety and security.
  • Emphasize the importance of education in strengthening and sustaining peace, as outlined in SDG4, Target 4.7, through the promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and life skills in line with the Recommendation on Education for Peace, Human Rights and Sustainable Development adopted on 20 November 2023 by 194 UNESCO Member States at the 42nd UNESCO’s General Conference.
  • Rally multiple stakeholders across different sectors to create a movement, with young people at the center, towards a more robust 21st century education for all children and young people.

“This comprehensive call for action underscores the urgency and importance of a collaborative effort to transform education, making it inclusive, peace-oriented, and resilient for the challenges of the 21st century. Together, let us forge a future where education becomes the cornerstone of lasting peace and progress.


The case of Mozambique

In Mozambique, as in many other countries in the region, Government has shown strong commitment to education, demonstrated through strong planning and robust domestic financing (Mozambique is allocating 6 per cent of GDP and 20 per cent of domestic Government budget to education). Nevertheless, provision of quality education to all remains a challenge in Mozambique. While almost all children in Mozambique enroll in primary education, 4 out of 10 school-aged children (6-17) do not complete primary education, and only 1 in 4 children complete secondary-level education. Only 4 per cent of pre-school aged children (3-5 years old) participate in formal early learning and, despite important progress in recent years, only 4.9 per cent and 7.7 per cent of children acquire basic skills in literacy and numeracy at grade three level respectively. In addition, the illiteracy rate among young people and adults, while improving, remains high at 39% (49.4 female) according to Census 2017.

This is why UNICEF and UNESCO are working to support Government-led efforts to address challenges including a lack of reading materials, high pupil to teacher ratios, high levels of absenteeism of both teachers and students, and inadequate infrastructure, all of which hinder children’s access to quality education.  Working to improve job prospects for school leavers, particularly in rural areas, is also a priority, and key to ensuring children remain in school until they have completed their education at primary or secondary level.

As children in Mozambique prepare to return to school on 31st January, UNESCO and UNICEF remain committed to supporting the Ministry of Education and Human Development, as well as other Government and civil society partners, in their efforts to improve children’s foundational learning and skills and create safe environments conducive to learning for all children, with a focus on the most vulnerable, including adolescent girls, young people and adults.

Media contacts

Gabriel Pereira
Communication Officer
UNICEF Moçambique
Tel: +258 84 522 1721

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