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What is International Day of Education?

Education is a human right, a public good and a public responsibility.

The United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 24 January as International Day of Education, in celebration of the role of education for peace and development.

Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.

Today, 258 million children and youth still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school. Their right to education is being violated and it is unacceptable.

SI Medway and Maidstone were pleased to offer their congratulations to our local MP – Helen Grant Member of Parliament for Maidstone and The Weald on her recent appointment, by the Prime Minister, as the special envoy for girls’ education. We are absolutely delighted that she has been given this important role, and feel she will be an excellent ambassador and champion. This is an important issue and as Soroptimists we are so pleased that it has now been given much greater significance. As you may recall, this is an issue which is at the core of the Soroptimist International organisation and the work that we do.  Our aim is to educate, empower and enable women and girls around the world.

Helen responded with the following: –

‘Thank you so much for your kind congratulations and I remember our collaborations from 2016 almost as if it were yesterday – our impressively huge group photo was one of the widest shots I’ve participated in!

International Day of Education 24 Jan 2021The empowerment of women and girls has been at the heart of my career and my politics all of my working life, firstly as a lawyer, and then as a parliamentarian over the last 11 years.  I am passionate about the campaign for girls’ education around the world and I was therefore delighted to be appointed as the Prime Minister’s Special Envoy for Girls Education. This is a great opportunity to help ‘move the dial’ further and make real progress on the number of girls receiving twelve years of high-quality education across the globe.

The need for concerted action has been greatly amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused the biggest disruption to education in history, affecting the learning of 1.3 billion children, many of them girls.  My focus will therefore be on encouraging the international community to adopt a more ambitious and co-ordinated approach to girls’ education; getting global leaders to speak out (as our PM has done) on the importance of educating girls and spotlighting all of the advantages; and working with supporting the fantastic NGOs and other stakeholders working in this space all over the world, delivering projects on the ground to help girls get into school and then stay in school.

The ongoing work that you are doing at SI is extremely important and I am glad to hear you are going from strength to strength with your recent merger with Medway.  If there are opportunities where I think we can work together I will certainly reach out to you.  In the meantime,  I will be using Twitter to update everyone with an interest in this campaign; on my work, plans, priorities and events.  If you are not doing so already perhaps you would like to follow me at @HelenGrantMP to keep track of this important journey.