“Education is the most powerful weapon to change the world,” Nelson Mandela once said. There is power in a quality education, and that is precisely why fair and free access to quality education is among the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Unfortunately, quality education is not a reality for all students. In fact, we’re in a global learning crisis: Since 2015, over 400 million children worldwide have not developed the needed skills to read and understand a simple story by the age of 10. They’re missing a critical literacy milestone that can help secure a better future. The COVID-19 pandemic is making this worse. At its peak, pandemic-related school closures impacted 1.6 billion children. Now, between 2015 and 2030, more than 1 billion 10-year-olds are estimated to miss that critical reading milestone.
Tackling the global learning crisis might seem like a massive task, but there are a few small steps you can take to get started. Here’s how you can help.
Prioritize your education
This might sound simple, but it’s a good place to start. To advance education globally, we must first look at ourselves and make education a priority in our own lives. No matter what stage of life you are in, you should never stop learning. Maybe there’s a language you’ve always wanted to learn or a subject you’ve always wanted to dive deeper into — no matter what the topic is, there’s no better time than now to start learning. Find out more about some free online courses you can take.
Volunteer with or mentor younger students
Education plays an important role in one’s life, especially at a young age. It helps shape the future course of life. Volunteering your time and help is a great way to help ensure every child receives a quality education. Discover more opportunities to volunteer your time to support children’s education.
If you are still in school yourself, there may be a program at your school designed to support younger students. If you’re a student, you can tutor others in your free time or mentor other students to help them realize their full potential. Ask your school what opportunities are available to you.
“Books can capture injustice in a way that sticks in your mind and makes you want to do something about it. That’s why they’re so powerful,” Malala Yousafzai said. Books are fountains of knowledge with a surprisingly long lifespan. Instead of letting old books collect dust in a bookshelf, consider participating in book exchanges with others, or donating your old books to those who could use them. These are great ways to give your books a new lease on life and share the wealth of knowledge found in each book with others.
Test your own knowledge
If you went back to the classroom, how well do you think you would do? Could you answer some simple questions about geography, grammar, and math? We’ve designed a quiz to help you find out. It features questions that most 10-year-olds should be able to answer. But with the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating the global learning crisis, many 10-year-olds are missing a critical literacy milestone to secure a better future.
You can also learn more about how COVID-19 is impacting global education with our Lost Potential Tracker. Our tracker illustrates how many children are not gaining crucial learning skills by age 10. Over 400 million children have already missed a critical literacy milestone, and by 2030, that number is estimated to be over 1 billion. Thankfully, we know how to address this issue. Explore how in the tracker.
Hopefully, there are a few tips here that inspire you to take action. Every step counts, as we can only achieve these Sustainable Development Goals together!
Learn more about how you can work towards other Sustainable Development Goals, like ending global poverty and world hunger, and sign our petition telling governments to invest in every child’s future.