United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday told the international community to rally around education as a top political priority for the recovery and beyond.
"I call on everyone to unite around education as a public good and a top political priority for the recovery and beyond," the UN chief said in his video message for the International Day of Education, which falls on Monday.
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused chaos in education worldwide, said the secretary-general. "Some 1.6 billion school and college students had their studies interrupted at the peak of the pandemic -- and it's not over yet."
He said that school closures continue to disrupt the lives of over 31 million students, exacerbating a global learning crisis.
"Unless we take action, the share of children leaving school in developing countries who are unable to read could increase from 53 to 70 percent," he said.
"Education is a preeminent public good, and an essential enabler for the entire 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development," Guterres said, adding that "the international community cannot afford to be agnostic about its provision, quality and relevance."
The International Day of Education, which came into existence on Dec. 3, 2018 following an UN General Assembly resolution, is celebrated annually on Jan. 24 for the role of education in bringing global peace and sustainable development.