UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday called for action in five areas to transform education.
Guterres stressed the need to protect the right to quality education for everyone, especially girls, everywhere, Xinhua news agency reported.
"Schools must be open to all, without discrimination. We must recover the years of education lost around the world because of the pandemic," he said.
"From this platform, I appeal to the authorities in Afghanistan: Lift all restrictions on girls' access to secondary education immediately. Girls' education is among the most important steps to deliver peace, security and sustainable development, everywhere," he added.
As teachers are the lifeblood of education systems, there is a need for a new focus on their roles and skillsets, he said.
Today's teachers need to be facilitators in the classroom, promoting learning rather than merely transmitting answers, he said. "We also need to tackle the global shortage of teachers, and look at increasing their quality by raising their status and ensuring they have decent working conditions and continuous training and learning opportunities, and receive adequate salaries."
Schools must become safe, healthy spaces, with no place for violence, stigma or intimidation. Education systems should promote the physical and mental health of all students, including their sexual and reproductive health, said Guterres.
The digital revolution must benefit all learners, he said. "I urge countries to improve connectivity for students and educational institutions."
None of the above will be possible without a surge in education financing and global solidarity, he warned.
"During these difficult times, I urge all countries to protect education budgets and ensure that education spending translates into progressive increases in resources per student and better learning outcomes. Education financing must be the number one priority for governments. It is the single most important investment any country can make in its people and its future."