On 3 October, the European Union and African Commission sponsored a hybrid online and in person event on ‘Realising the right to education worldwide through digital transformation’.
The event focused on the realisation of the right to education, in addition to ensuring access to quality and inclusive education worldwide. A particular focus was an analysis of the opportunities, challenges, and the role of regional organisations to confront and overcome the exclusion of women and girls, as well as persons with disabilities through educational technologies.
The event was moderated by Peggy Hicks, Director of the Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division of the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR). The opening remarks offered by Ambassador Bankole Adeoye, Commissioner for Political Affairs, Peace and Security of the African Union, focused on access to education and the importance of quality education, and the reduction of the digital divide. His remarks were followed by those of Eamon Gilmore, Special Representative for Human Rights in the European Union, who discussed the importance of strengthened cooperation on human rights as a core outcome of the dialogue between the European Union and African Commission, and elevated the centrality of the right to education as an enabling right.
Panellists included newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Education, Farida Shaheed; Alex Wong, Chief, Special Initiatives, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and Co-Lead, Giga; Geert Cappelaere, UNICEF Representative European Union Institutions, Director UNICEF Partnership Office; Salima Namusobya, Executive Director of the Initiative for Social and Economic Rights; Magdalena Sepúlveda Carmona, Executive Director of The Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
In her intervention Salima Namusobya, Executive Director of ISER, acknowledged the transformative potential of digital learning but stressed the extent to which it has widened the inequality gap in education between those who have access to digital learning and those who do not. This asymmetrical access impacts particularly on women, girls, and children with disabilities, she stressed. In addition, issues regarding lack of access to digital mediums and limited infrastructure truncate the potential for many to engage in digital learning. Crucially, Salima Namusobya stressed that any investment in education technology should be focused on the achievement of inclusive and equitable quality education.
Read the report developed by the press and information team of the Delegation to the UN in Geneva.
An additional event was organised by the EU on the Right to Education and Digital Transformation - watch the video here