Every boy and girl, every adolescent and grown up have the right to education from the moment they are born. This right is never lost. Under no circumstances should this right be neglected, regardless of gender, age or country of origin.
But this has not always been the case. For centuries, education was a privilege for just a few but since 1948, the International Human Rights Declaration and most national constitutions have established education as a fundamental right of every citizen. And it is not just any right; education is the pathway to access the rest of human rights and enjoy fundamental freedoms. “Educational justice means radical justice (radical meaning “from the roots”), and the tree of social and structural justice will never be achievable without it”, claimed Father Vélaz, the founder of Fe y Alegría.
However, today, millions of people continue to be discriminated against because they live in the poorest parts of the planet or in conflict areas; because they cannot learn in their mother tongue; because they live with a disability…the causes of exclusion are just too many.
Jesuits, along with thousands of collaborators, have developed an extensive commitment to education around the globe, but this direct action work is not enough. Do we only want to offer the best schools and universities to our students? Or do we want the best education for everyone? We stand for an education that is understood as a public good, which removes inequality and prioritizes with equity those who are in highly vulnerable situations.
We are educators and work for justice. We must proclaim this right, claim it and demand it of States whose responsibility is to guarantee it. We must engage with others to do so, and one step requires being aware of the reality and learning what needs to be done so that quality education is a reality for everyone.
GIAN Education wants to contribute to the task of awareness-raising and has recently launched the “Right to education, right to hope” campaign to do so. It is an invitation to Jesuit organizations around the world to reflect together, take on our responsibility and, under a common slogan, raise our voices together to claim that educating and learning is MY right, it is OUR right, it is everyone’s right.
The resources of the campaign include a content guide for facilitators and activities not only for children and youth but also for adults. They are free and available to be downloaded at edujesuit.org in four languages. Topics such as an analysis of the current reality of education around the world, the new international agenda promoted by the United Nations, and the responsibility of different parts of the society offer an integral view to raise awareness and build strong citizens committed to demanding their rights. Visit edujesuit.org and become a right to education supporter.