Today is the International Day of Education. This is an annual international observance day that was established in 2018 by the United Nations General Assembly in order to reflect on the importance of education for bringing about peace and development. It’s a key issue that also ties in with the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set out in the UN’s 2030 Agenda - particularly SDG 4, Quality education, which aims to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” - and which Enel facilitates with the projects it runs in the various countries where it operates.
Education, a fundamental cornerstone for the future
Access to education is the key component that guarantees a better future for everyone. Indeed, if education isn’t available to all, then it’s impossible for many countries to achieve gender equality and to break the cycle of poverty that huge swathes of humanity are still caught in.
We often speak, and correctly so, about the “right to education.” But education isn’t only a right, which should be universal and inalienable, it’s also a fundamental lever for facilitating development, an issue of public responsibility that can lead us toward a more sustainable, truly inclusive and just world.
Today, according to data from UNESCO, almost 250 million children and young people throughout the world don’t attend school, around 4 million of whom are refugees; there are approximately 770 million uneducated adults and more than 600 million children who aren’t able to read or do basic math. In sub-Saharan Africa such is the extent to which girls are deprived of their right to education that fewer than 40 per cent of them complete secondary school.
It is therefore time to significantly accelerate the drive toward quality education for all. That’s why this year's International Day of Education (the fifth) will be celebrated under the theme “To invest in people, prioritize education.” Building on the global momentum generated by the UN Transforming Education Summit in September 2022, this year’s Day will call for maintaining strong political mobilization around education and chart the way to translate commitments and global initiatives into action: education must be prioritized to accelerate progress toward all the Sustainable Development Goals against the backdrop of a global recession, growing inequality and the climate crisis.
Education: our global commitment
Promoting respect for human rights is a key element in facilitating sustainable progress. This is the guiding principle that permeates all our activities and is fully integrated into our corporate purpose and values, as we are a part of the local areas in which we operate, and we play a fundamental role in the lives of people, businesses and society in general.
Responsible relationships with local communities are at the core of our strategy: individual people’s circumstances, economic and social development, and the general well-being of the community are all closely linked.
With this objective in mind, we look to develop initiatives aimed at facilitating inclusive and equitable quality education. Our aim is to make education a cornerstone of sustainable development. It’s for this reason that we’re focusing on specialized training and educational projects, especially for the younger generation, enabling access to quality education and fostering close cooperation with the local authorities.
Our development projects that have education as their primary focus are principally targeted at young people, with 5 million expected to benefit between now and 2030 in the countries where we operate. For example, through the Energia con Fuerza Local project, which was set up by Enel Chile, we’re providing training on the energy transition process to 130 students from local communities. Remaining in Latin America, Educating with Energy, with the support of Enel Distribución Peru, has developed a course to train both male and female students as industrial electricians. Since 2018, our Romanian colleagues have been involved in supporting The Future Electrician project, which provides a joint degree to a class of 23 students with the aim of ensuring the next generation of technicians are well-prepared for entering the profession.
In Spain, we’re facilitating a school digitalization project involving 400 state schools, and it’s aimed particularly at students who live in difficult social contexts and have no access to the digital world. It’s an initiative through which teachers and children are trained in disciplines such as programming, app development and 3D design.
In Italy, our Group is engaged in the #EnelUp4Education program, a raft of initiatives aimed at promoting the right to study, raising awareness of the opportunities that the energy transition process offers, and facilitating entry into the world of work.
The program includes School4Life, which has already seen the participation of 15 high schools and 10 middle schools, and the new 2.0 edition will involve an additional 1,500 secondary school students over a period of two years. The objective is to provide access to quality education for those from more disadvantaged backgrounds, orientating young people toward the professions of the future, STEM subjects and sustainable innovation, by developing a learning environment based on the principle of “Learning by doing.”
The WE Project is also part of #Up4Education. We launched this teacher training initiative in Palermo, Bari and Civitavecchia in 2021. The È viva la Scuola Labs project was also established in that same year. The initiative, which is facilitated by Enel and the Helpcode association, is aimed at primary school pupils for whom 120 distance learning labs have been set up to cover the subjects of human rights, coding and the sustainable use of plastic. Finally, Energie per Crescere (“Energies for Growth”) is a program that was launched by our Group with #EnelOpenSchool in collaboration with the ELIS training institute. Its purpose is to generate professional opportunities for 5,500 people who, by the end of 2023, could be employed by our partner companies.
For us, knowledge is one of the most important assets there is: it enables those who have access to it to develop both personally and professionally, which in turn contributes to the sustainable growth of the community. This is why we are fully committed to ensuring that nobody is left behind.