Defining Education – Is this a human right being treated as a luxury?

© UNICEF/UN070615/Hatcher-Moore

Musa Mdungase is Senior Specialist For Education with the African Youth Union Commission.

There is no denying the importance of education and the role of education in the development of society. It has the power to transform people, communities and the world at large.

But if education is so powerful, why is it that so many young people are denied access to it?

The commodification of education has meant that profits are prioritized, inequality gaps widened, and the most marginalized groups of people still don’t have access to any form of education. Moreover, current education systems don’t offer any security, given the circumstances of children and youth. COVID-19 highlighted just how many young people are a pandemic away from being amongst the millions who don’t have access to education.

Henceforth, this exacerbates the need to transform many of the world’s different education systems and make them more inclusive, resilient and adequate, and ensure a more equitable access to resources. 

Furthermore, we need to expand the view of education in emergencies to include considerations of systematic oppression, legacies of conflict, colonialism and apartheid. There are existing education systems which systematically shut out large numbers of children from accessing education, and the need to reform such systems should be viewed as an emergency.

Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful tool, you can use to change the world.” We should ensure every child has access to education.