UN Global Education InstituteIf anybody is going to lead the charge for higher education, it’s the United Nations. A new U.N. Global Education Institute has been introduced in Pohang, South Korea. The institute, named after former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, will become a hub for U.N. Academic Impact (UNAI), which is focused on building up support for higher education worldwide. Through this central location, the U.N. Global Education Institute has the potential to make a lasting difference for universal learning and growth. The more the public knows about the institute and its goals, the better.

The U.N. Global Education Institute would be nothing without the program behind it. The UNAI is a global initiative, launched in 2010, that aligns institutions of higher education, scholarship and research with the United Nations. More than 1,000 institutions in more than 120 countries and around 30 academic networks are now members or endorsers. Ten basic principles hold the UNAI accountable to advancing world education, including addressing issues of poverty, conflict resolution and sustainability. Connecting education and poverty with the UNAI and U.N. Global Education Institute is an encouraging sign for the outlook of universal higher education.

Regardless of gender, race, religion or ethnicity, education is a goal crucial to the U.N.’s goals for sustainable development. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development is a plan that includes fighting poverty on every level. Education is a high priority in this fight, since universal access to quality education at all levels is considered an assured human right. However, poverty holds many students back from achieving this right. The spread of information and technology has especially made the differences between poverty and wealth much more apparent.

The new U.N. Global Education Institute is taking a different approach to this problem by focusing on higher education. While primary schooling is crucial for all, students’ ability to progress past the prerequisite curricula is nearly impossible for the impoverished. Whether it be the financial costs of higher education or the discrimination in the admissions process, impoverished students face many challenges.

Unveiling the new U.N. Global Education Institute is an exciting step toward realizing universal access to education. However, this news is only the beginning. Much more work is necessary, especially once the institute opens its doors and begins work and research.

Anybody can help with this important work and make a difference for global higher education. Students can encourage their own universities to become partners in the UNAI or even join the Actions by Students to Promote Innovation and Reform through Education (ASPIRE), a program that embodies the UNAI’s 10 principles within student communities worldwide. Even those not currently attending college can educate others on the U.N.’s educational endeavors in the fight against poverty. A commitment to bring prosperity to all, financial and educational alike, is one worth making.

Allie Knofczynski

Photo: Flickr