Education – a human right

Class at a school in As Salt, Jordan. Three pupils standing in front of a whiteboar, one of them writing arabic letters with chalk.

Education is a human right and the foundation for developing one's cultural identity – as an individual and as a society. Education is essential for reducing global poverty and enabling people to live together in peace. Because, education is the driving force for sustainable development in all its dimensions: economic, social, ecological and political cultural. Which means that it can help in achieving every one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda.

Every child has the right to an education and every individual is entitled to be able to satisfy his or her basic learning needs – through lifelong learning.

Yet there are still some 750 million young people and adults in the world who can neither read nor write, and about two thirds of them are women. There are 264 million children and youth between the ages of 6 and 17 who have no opportunity to attend school. And those children who do go to school often fail to graduate. Between 2010 and 2015, the average completion rate for primary school (ages 6 to 11) worldwide was a mere 83 per cent, for lower secondary (ages 12 to 14) 69 per cent and for upper secondary (ages 15 to 17) just 45 per cent.

These figures published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) are based on official surveys carried out by individual countries – and it must be feared that the real figures are very much higher. There are many crisis regions where no statistics on education are produced at all and many people living in informal poor urban areas who are not recorded in the statistics either.

Education – a key area of development policy

The international community has pledged to improve education worldwide. Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Developments says: "Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all".

This includes ensuring that by 2030 all girls and boys receive free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education, and that all young people and a significant proportion of adults learn reading, writing and arithmetic.

The German Federal Government's development policy activities in the education sector are geared towards these internationally agreed targets. The guiding principle in German development cooperation is "lifelong learning". Everyone must have the chance to acquire knowledge and skills from childhood into old age. The education strategy presented by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in July 2015, "Creating equitable opportunities for quality education", sets out Germany’s priorities for and approaches to promoting education. The comprehensive approach to education covers learning in every phase of life – from early learning through to primary and secondary school, vocational training, higher education and adult education.

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