This year, the UNESCO-backed International Day for Education recognises the significant impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on global education. With a mission theme to “Recover and Revitalise”, the call to action is clear: it is our communal responsibility to build our education systems back up. By increasing access to economic opportunities through education, we can hope to achieve gender equality and break the cycle of poverty.
Recent United Nations reporting on its Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) for Education indicates that school closures for Covid-19 kept 90% of all students out of school, reversing years of progress on education. Inequalities in education are exacerbated by Covid-19 – in low income countries, children’s school completion rate is 79% in the richest households, but only 34% in the poorest.
So what cause is there to celebrate on this International Day for Education? Let us look to a fantastic example of education-focused entrepreneurship in east Africa coming from the British Council’s Creative Hubs Academy for inspiration:
Zetu Africa and the School Seat Pack
Arnold Mugaga is founder of Zetu Africa, based in Uganda. His design-led company creates innovative bags that pupils can use to carry books and convert into seats during class sessions – inspired by a 2016 report stating that 95 million children in Africa study without classroom furniture.
Innovating throughout the pandemic, Arnold and his team now use locally sourced bamboo to create a lightweight, affordable chair and bag (with mobile writing board) that is also waterproof.
Arnold’s advice to entrepreneurs in the creative economies is to maintain an openness to learning, which can be done through participating in programmes such as the British Council’s Creative Hubs Academy. He attests to the programme’s interest in imparting knowledge to entrepreneurs and supporting them to ensure that they remain relevant, diverse, sustainable, and inclusive.
His is just one bright example of the way in which we can move past the setbacks caused by the coronavirus pandemic. This International Day for Education, let us celebrate him and other entrepreneurs like him who are moving us productively towards an inclusive and equitable quality education for all.
Infographic source: https://sdgs.un.org/goals/goal4