Access to quality education and lifelong learning opportunities is crucial for vibrant, inclusive societies and thriving economies. Without that access, millions of children, youth, and adults are left behind.
Each year, the International Day for Education offers an opportunity to reflect on the integral connection between learning, the generation and sharing of knowledge, and the quality of life around the globe.
This year, we are called on to consider the theme, “learning for lasting peace.” As we witness a surge in violent conflict and insecurity in many parts of the world, that theme reminds us of the transformative power of education to equip learners of all ages with the knowledge, values, and skills to become agents of peace and pluralism in their communities and the wider world.
While this holds for all societies, it is critical in those countries and regions that face persistent barriers to quality education, healthcare, and economic opportunity; suffer enduring conflicts; and disproportionately bear the effects of a changing climate.
That said, no country, and no people, are immune from the impact of conflict and insecurity in other parts of the globe: as the COVID-19 pandemic taught us, the world is interdependent and interconnected.
At Aga Khan University, we understand that providing access to quality education at all levels has the power to guide us toward a more peaceful, prosperous and pluralist world. We must see and value quality education as a human right, a public good, and—perhaps most importantly —a shared, global responsibility if we hope for lasting peace.
Rather than the arsenals of violent conflict, education can indeed be the most powerful weapon to change the world.
Let me close with this quote from Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Founder of Pakistan:
“Knowledge arms you with power; wield it to shape a brighter future.”
Dr Sulaiman Shahabuddin is the Vice Chancellor of Aga Khan University