Education International
Education International

Teachers give the World’s Biggest Lesson ever!

published 23 April 2008 updated 23 April 2008

As part of Global Action Week, today teachers all around the world are cooperating in an effort to set a world record for the biggest lesson ever taught.

Depending on the time zone in each country, the World’s Biggest Lesson will be given in thousands of participating schools at 4:00, 8:00 or 15:00 GMT. For half an hour, teachers all over the world will give the same lesson at the same time. The objectives of the World’s Biggest Lesson are as follows:

- To explain the importance of getting a good quality education. - To explain the number of people who do not get an education. - To explain the impact that not being able to read, write or count has on people’s lives. - To teach politicians a lesson about the importance of education and the need to take urgent action to achieve the Millennium Development Goals on Education for All.

This world record attempt is organised by the Global Campaign for Education, in which Education International is a partner. It aims to gather as many schools and learners as possible around this lesson. The final global number of participants is to be validated, announced by the end of May, and hopefully registered in the Guinness Book of Records.

In many countries around the world, Ministers of Education and other politicians are getting involved by going back to school themselves, either to teach or to be taught this lesson.

In Belgium, three primary schools participated. In Brussels, 70 students aged 9-12 took the lesson. Their teachers asked them to reflect on what makes for a world record, then on what makes for a good or bad education, and finally on how their future lives would be different if they grew up and didn’t know how to read, write or count. The lesson ended with a quiz to evaluate the students’ understanding of the concepts covered.

The children demonstrated a great awareness of the central role of education in their lives. Here are some of their comments:

“Without knowing how to read or write, it is hard to find a job.” “For a good education, we need money to pay salaries for good teachers.” “If you do not go to school, you do not have happy memories.” “Without education, we are kept from fulfilling our dreams. I want to be a veterinarian. And to become one, you need to go to school for a long time.”

The children illustrated the importance of literacy with examples from their everyday lives, and the negative impact the absence of education could have for them. Such daily tasks as working, paying the bills, sending an SMS or going on MSN become impossible, they said.

“If you are illiterate, you could not help your own children do their homework.” “You could not take medicine to get better, because I do not know exactly which disease they cure, and it can be dangerous.” “I could not send a letter if I have administrative problems.”

The students also had a vivid interest in seeing African children getting the same fair chances of success. They were ready to welcome African children into their classroom so they could study together.

They were mostly shocked to learn that still 750 million adults around the world cannot read or write, and that in many schools in Zambia the size of a class can be over 100 children to one teacher. “How can the teacher teach them all? Does he get mad if the children have poor marks and study badly?” they rightfully asked.

All agreed with the poetic definition of education presented by one of the students: “It is the key of life. Without it, you are as good as blind, it is a great handicap.”

EI urges governments to sustain and improve their efforts to achieve Education for All by 2015.

To know more about the Global Action Week, please go to www.ei-ie.org, or www.campaignforeducation.org