Education: our Greatest Renewable Resource

Think of a renewable resource.

Was the first image that came to your mind of wind turbines in the distance, glittering solar panels, or a great, churning waterfall? You certainly wouldn’t be wrong. We often look to our natural environment for resources that drive our ways of life and fuel our future. But what if we look more inward?

What if we look to people?

Education is humanity’s greatest renewable resource, according to the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organisation (UNESCO).  The UN has marked 24 January as the International Day of Education in order to re-affirm its importance in creating both human well-being and sustainable development.

This is captured in the theme for the International Day of Education 2020: Learning for people, planet, prosperity, and peace.

If education is a valuable resource for the well-being of our planet and its inhabitants, we look to teachers, schools, libraries, information specialists and memory institutions as the infrastructure needed to access it.

A Goldmine of Information

Education and learning go beyond the classroom. Education is both formal and informal, from early childhood to post-doctorate, at all stages of life and for all people.

Libraries are “education for all” institutions, built through their strong, fundamental belief in universal and equitable access to information.

IFLA’s core values include:

  •  The belief that people, communities and organisations need universal and equitable access to information, ideas and works of imagination for their social, educational, cultural, democratic and economic well-being
  • The conviction that delivery of high-quality library and information services helps guarantee that access

To extend this metaphor even further: libraries are mines of information, and the library professional is the guide to help one discover gold.

Learning to be a Global Citizen

Global Citizenship is an identity born through education, story and knowledge sharing, cultural expressions, mutual respect and solidarity.

IFLA believes that freedom of expression, access to information, preservation and access to cultural heritage, and information literacy are central in developing societies where people can identify as global citizens. This is reflected in our vision of a strong and united library field powering literate, informed and participative societies.

If global citizenship is identity based on a connection to humanity that transcends borders, then the access to that humanity, through education and access to information, is paramount.

Growing global citizens means providing the resources, opportunities and platforms for education, and empowering individuals to use them to take action for people, planet, prosperity and peace.  As a provider of these resources, opportunities and platforms, libraries are a rich vein in which to cultivate our most valuable renewable resource.

 We invite our members to think about how they can grow their potential as providers of information, education and lifelong learning. 

For more, take a look at IFLA’s Brief on Open Educational Resources.  It underlines the role that librarians can play in creating, curating and ensuring access to these materials, and key issues surrounding Open Educational Resources.