This editorial is adapted from the article that Trevor Miranda, SJ, Core group representative for India and Nepal in the GIAN for the Right to Education that published in the cover Feature for ‘Jivan News and Views or Jesuits in India’, January 2015 edition.
In the year 2000 global development goals were set for the next 15 years in two international gatherings: the World Education Forum celebrated in Dakar, during which the goal of a quality, free, ‘Education for all’ regardless of gender or background was developed, whilst at the United Nations Millennium Summit the ‘Millennium Development Goals’ goals were subscribed to by the international community, with a quarter of the goals being specifically focussed towards education, specifically a complete primary school education for all children and elimination of gender discrimination in education.
In 2015, the objectives of the goals developed in 2000 were supposed to have been achieved. However the data shows that the world is far away from meeting these targets:
“Only 87 out of 100 children in developing regions complete primary education” (UNDP, 2011).
In our own country (India) millions of children are still out of school, in child labour and deprived of a quality education.
“87% of female youth had basic literacy skills, compared to 92% of males” (UIS Education Database, 2011).
Equal access to education for girls in the early years remains a dream.
Knowing that the Millennium Development Goals and the target of Education for All will not be achieved in 2015, we must ask ourselves ‘What now?’. Shall we just be mute spectators and let others come up with some ideas?
I believe that now it is expedient that Jesuits come up with their own Jesuit Education Goals (SJEG) for the next 10 years and work towards publicising them and achieving them. We need to make a commitment to promote and defend quality education for everyone. We understand that in order to make this a reality in today’s society it is necessary to develop effective advocacy strategies to promote quality public education policies, while also practising these in our own centres and institutions. Our educational communities ought to understand themselves as a small part of the entire global education system.
With our large network of educational institutions across the country, Jesuits can spearhead this movement for a Quality Education for All across India to ensure that these goals are met within the next 10 years. We could network with all Church based institutions to make a deeper impact upon education in our country. The SJEG are based on the fundamental premise that education is central to the promotion of human rights, social equality, democracy and economic growth.
There are several simple strategies which have been tried successfully by other organisations, for example: Every Child Counts (ECC), launched initially by Doorstep School in Pune, is a campaign which inspired him with its simplicity and capacity to create change at a low cost. It involves essentially taking the time to find, encourage and inspire children to enrol, utilising the right of every child of 6 years (whether included in the census or not) to receive an education. The method of action is a detailed Survey of parishes and schools to identify children of 6-8 years, Enrolment of the children in the nearest municipal school, and then Follow-up with both the children and the school to ensure regular attendance, with organisation of out of school activities continuing during holidays to instil the importance of continuous education to both students and parents. There are challenges involved of course, there are difficulties involved in making the campaign systematic and consistent, locating out of school children, ensuring availability of places in municipal schools, providing transport etc… however there are ways to overcome this; through the successful implementation of ideas such as this, and through the avocation of the rights of children to a quality education to policy makers.