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Education is an act of hope


Ladies, gentlemen,

Education has always been an act of hope that looks from the present to the future. Static education does not exist. Today’s meeting in the Casina Pio VI is an act of hope and generational solidarity. Young leaders and global educators are meeting from every part of the world to promote a new type of education, that enables the current globalisation of indifference and the throwaway culture to be overcome. Two great evils of our culture, indifference and rejection.

This has been an extraordinary year of suffering due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a year of obligatory isolation and exclusion, of anguish and spiritual crises, and no small number of deaths, and an unprecedented educational crisis. More than a billion children faced disruption in their education. Hundreds of millions of children have been left behind in opportunities for social and cognitive development. And, in many places, the biological, psychological and economic crises have been compounded by related political and social crises.

You have gathered today in an act of hope, an act of hope so that the impulses of hatred, divisions and ignorance may be and are overcome through a new good climate, let’s say, a new good climate of educational opportunities based on social justice and reciprocal love, a new Global Compact on Education launched back in October with some of those present. First of all, I thank you for coming together today to raise our shared hopes and plans for a new education that promotes the transcendence of the human person, integral and sustainable human development, intercultural and religious dialogue, the protection of the planet, and meetings for peace and openness to God.

The United Nations offer a unique opportunity for governments and civil society of the world to unite both in hope and in action for a new education. I gladly quote Saint Paul VI’s Message of acknowledgment to the United Nations, which says: “Gentlemen, you have accomplished and are now in the course of accomplishing a great work: you are teaching men peace. The United Nations is the great school where people get this education”. The Constitution of UNESCO, adopted in 1945, at the end of the tragedy of the Second World War, recognised “That since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defences of peace must be constructed”. Seventy-five years ago the founders of UNESCO called for the “full and equal opportunities for education for all, … the unrestricted pursuit of objective truth, and… the free exchange of ideas and knowledge… for the purposes of mutual understanding and a truer and more perfect knowledge of each other’s lives” (Preamble).

In our time, in which the global education compact has broken down, I see with satisfaction that governments have recommitted themselves to putting these ideas into practice through the adoption of the 2030 Agenda and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, in synergy with the Global Compact on Education. 

At the heart of the Sustainable Development Goals is the acknowledgment that quality education for all is a necessary foundation for protecting our common home and promoting human fraternity. Like the Global Compact on Education, Goal 4 also fundamentally commits all governments to "ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.

The Global Compact on Education and Mission 4.7 will work together for the civilisation of love, beauty and unity. Allow me to tell you that you are the poets of a new human beauty, a new fraternal and friendly beauty, as well as of the preservation of the earth we tread. Do not forget the elderly and grandparents, bearers of the most decisive human values. Thank you for what you do and please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.


Bulletin of the Holy See Press Office, 16 December 2020

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