Parents key influencers for education

03.04.23

UN New York - With the upcoming 56th UN Commission on Population Development (CPopD56), we are publishing the written statement we submitted ahead of this session, which will focus on Population, education and sustainable development. Our statement focuses on the crucial role mothers/parents play in education, passing on essential values to ensure social cohesion.

The following is the full text of our statement.

Throughout history, education has been a source of empowerment and a driving force for social, economic cultural and political change.

But COVID-19 has resulted in an unprecedented education crisis. More than 90 % of the world’s children have had their education interrupted by the Pandemic.

The issue of distance-learning brought about its own problem – the digital divide. 826 million, or half of the world’s pupils and students do not have computers at home with 706 million (43%) not connected to the Internet.

At MMM, we welcome and support the directions taken by the Transforming Education Summit convened in September 2021 to address this global crisis.

We agree with the statement posted on the Transforming Education Summit website:  “A good education develops a person’s values and the capacity to live together in peace; to respect and appreciate human diversity, gender equality, and human rights; and to exercise an active commitment to sustainable development”. A whole-child, learner-centred approach to inclusion and equity should be at the heart of any education system.

At MMM, we also believe that education should enable children to develop their personality and cultural identity, while learning and understanding the cultural values of other communities, so that they can become constructive actors in society.

Each person is rich in his or her own heritage, and to appropriate a cultural resource is to discover it, practice it and contribute to it.

In the context of the global climate crisis, rapid technological transformation, profound changes in the world of work, the rise of misinformation and hate speech, education systems must adapt to the changing professional skills required, but also develop critical thinking skills, respect, empathy, and creativity. The passing on of the values of respect and benevolence takes place in the family, through everyday behaviour.

As rightly stated by the International Commission on the future of education, education must be viewed from a holistic and lifelong learning perspective. It requires the strengthening of a wide range of cognitive, socio-emotional, and behavioural skills that are essential. Such an approach will enable all learners, from early childhood to adulthood.

MMM wishes to recall the crucial importance of early childhood education and care for the acquisition of these skills (see below reference to the November 2022 Tashkent conference). Scientific research shows how children’s early environment contributes to their overall future development.

We therefore emphasize the importance of parents and the family context in the daily education of children. As primary educators, parents, especially mothers, play an essential role that must be recognized, valued and supported.

The COVID crisis has revealed the shortcomings of our educational systems that has, instead of equity and equality, reinforced privilege and inequality. Young people and adults report that education does not equip them with the knowledge, skills and values they need. This has a direct link with the difficulty in accessing quality education for which trained, decently paid and valued teachers and educators are sorely needed.

The crisis also points to the vital importance of care work within the family with parents and especially mothers obliged to step in hands on and how difficult it is to juggle professional and care responsibilities given the lack of adequate services, support and recognition.

Education has entered a vicious circle that is sometimes out of step with reality.

These challenges were recently spotlighted during the UNESCO World Conference on Early Childhood Care and Education held in Tashkent Nov 14 – 16 2022. Ample illustrations were offered on the lack of investment globally in this first and essential brick of human development, needed to fuel the continuum of education as a life-long process – the only way for achieving sustainable development.

Stefania Giannini, the UNESCO Assistant Director General for Education, shared a strong quote by Abdulla Avloni, expressing today’s challenges about education: “Education is a matter of either life or death, either salvation – or destruction, either happiness or disaster for us”.

It is time for the Right to education to enter a virtuous and inclusive circle. It is time for formal, informal and non-formal education to unite in the pursuit of a common goal. Non-formal education is also an essential component of unpaid care work, it complements academic education provided by trained professionals. Parents must be provided with scientific evidence-based information tailored to their needs as the primary educators of their children and parenting programs to help and encourage them regarding this important responsibility.

Fathers must be involved too and invited to take their share of responsibilities for the well-being of all in the family. Education from the start is a significant leverage for more gender equality and reinforcing recognition on care and education.

And, for this to happen, mothers themselves must have access to life long-education from the very start as girls. When they become mothers, they must benefit from adequate support services, including financial support when it is needed. Women should not be penalized when they choose to become mothers. Adequate policies taken to enable them to reconcile their mother’s role with their professional and other social roles will be a true marker for sustainable development.

MMM Statement for download:

The 56th UN Commission on Population Development will take place 10-14 April 2023 at the UN headquarters in New York

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