Right to quality education for all

 The Apostolic Challenge for Right to Education: The Society of Jesus has a long trajectory in the field of education. From its very beginning education was considered an important component in carrying out the mission of promoting the dignity of all persons as children of God. Education faces many challenges in today’s world: we are confronted with the extreme poverty of more than one billion persons and 61 million children and adolescents who are denied the right to education. 774 million adults have had the right to education denied them in the course of their life and can neither read nor write. We know however that providing schooling for all of them requires only as much of an investment as the rich countries spend on their military for just six days. Quality education continues to be a tremendous challenge, given the inefficient educational systems, poorly paid teachers, dilapidated infrastructure, curriculum content that is irrelevant for large sections of the population, top-down pedagogical practices, and extremely high levels of school dropouts. The victims of this systematic violation of the right to education are the most vulnerable sections of the population, namely rural communities, indigenous peoples, refugees and displaced persons, the elderly, disabled people, girls and women… In the light of these challenges, GC 35 issued a direct call to the whole Ignatian family to promote political advocacy as a new dimension of our apostolic mission, deeply rooted though it might be in our history. Our educational activity should be reviewed and enhanced in the light of this call as we contemplate the reality of education in our world. A group of Jesuit organizations working in education from different conferences have decided to unite forces and resources to collaborate for political advocacy towards the promotion of the right to quality education for all. At the beginning of this partnership we developed a common position and understanding of the right to education, and what its defence and promotion means for our works. Ignatian Spirituality and our educational mission in more than 70 countries lead us to defend quality education, not only for the small numbers to whom we attend to in our works, but also for all those persons in need of education. We therefore speak from the perspective of the poor and of those deprived of good quality education. We declare ourselves to be in solidarity with them. Education is the inalienable right of every human being. It is not just any right, but rather the right without which it is practically impossible to gain access to other human rights and to enjoy basic human freedom. The right to education means the right to quality education for all persons. The diversity of living conditions and cultural differences of different Promotio Iustitiae, n° 110, 2013/1 29 populations means that the starting point of education of persons (and communities) should be different. It is not possible to offer the same thing to everybody if all are to be at the same level; for true equality we need to give more to those who have less and hence require more. Quality education being a public good and a basic right for all persons, the state has the obligation to guarantee it; the state must therefore assume responsibility for promoting the synergy of the different factors involved: family, communities, educators, government, business… and then provide an education to build societies that are democratic, just, diverse, and inclusive. Present response of the Society of Jesus: In 2012 the network mapped information available in the Provinces and conferences to know what the Society of Jesus is doing on advocacy for the right to education and to establish connections between Jesuit and non-Jesuit institutions. 76 institutions (Schools, Social Centres, NGO, universities and others) belonging to various Conferences of South Asia (27), CPAL (19), Europe (15), Africa (13), Asia-Pacific (1) and USA (1) replied to the questionnaire. These institutions are mainly dedicated to the care of children and youth, and indigenous populations in marginalized rural and urban areas. − They consider advocacy as a priority, though the number of people dedicated to this task in these organizations is very small, or in some cases, none. − The recurrent topics for advocacy are: a) quality of education, b) education of girls and women, c) education of marginalized groups, d) promotion and defence of education as a human right. − Besides these institutions, many more local organizations and institutions are in touch with the grassroots with a potential for mobilization and communication. Hence we can develop into a universal body, enabling the capabilities of others within the framework of the GIAN. Finally, the context: 2015 marks an important horizon on the international agenda with the review of the objectives of Education For All and the Millennium Development Goals. The Ignatian advocacy network for the right to education can take advantage of this opportunity to contribute and join the international movement of the civil society. The recent launch of a new UN initiative, "Education First", opens another interesting sphere of influence. Mission and Objectives of the Network The network is committed to influencing public policies regarding quality education for all ensuring transformative education, to defending the right to quality education for all throughout their lives, to promoting equity for those most in need and to guaranteeing education as a common good. Three lines of work that we have defined for the network are: − Raising Awareness on the right to education and capacity building within the Ignatian family. Social Justice and Ecology Secretariat 30 − Developing international advocacy on education through strategic participation in the international movement on education. − Reinforcing local /national advocacy initiatives through these means: supporting the international dimension they may have, sharing experiences and using online communication tools. Possibilities for Collaboration − Contribute to the reflection and promotion of the right to education within the Ignatian family, using the position document, and stimulate participation in GIAN education. − Participate in the Global Campaign for Education. − Share experiences and contribute to a report on the right to education of vulnerable populations.