JEDDAH: The OIC Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission has called upon member states to uphold the right to education as a core policy.
The organization used the 55th anniversary of International Literacy Day to push for greater efforts in education, arguing that the coronavirus pandemic has made the right to education even more important.
Boosting educational services will also aid in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the commission said.
The pandemic has “magnified pre-existing inequalities in access to meaningful literacy, and amplified the centrality of literacy to people’s lives,” it added.
Referring to this year’s International Literacy Day theme, “Literacy for a human-centered recovery: Narrowing the digital divide,” the commission stressed that literacy skills are becoming prerequisites for the enjoyment of fundamental human rights in an age of social distancing.
Reading and writing skills are essential in accessing life-saving information and sustaining livelihoods amid the pandemic, it said.
Digital skills are also becoming an integral part of today’s literacy skills, without which the right to education cannot be fully realized, the commission added.
According to the International Telecommunications Union, almost half of the world’s population does not have internet access. In addition, urban-rural and gender disparities continue to present a significant obstacle to narrowing the digital gap in the Global South.
While commending the efforts and progress made by OIC member states in expanding access to education in recent years, the commission urged countries to step up efforts to address structural obstacles.
Economic integration and advancement in communication have brought the world closer and human rights are increasingly recognized as a unifying moral force, the commission said, adding that it is imperative to make human rights understood in society, in order to encourage the full development of mutual respect and cultural diversity.
The OIC body reminded the international community that the mission to narrow the digital divide is a responsibility shared by countries around the world. An equitable digital world cannot be achieved without the transfer of technology, and technical and financial assistance from developed countries, it added.