The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Series: Goal 4

G4Goal Four: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

This SDG is the extension of the second Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of achieving universal primary education. It has been acknowledged since the creation of the MDGs that there should probably be a more broad focus on education rather than just primary education, which is why SDG Four emphasizes primary, secondary and tertiary education, as well as vocational and technical training. Sub-Saharan Africa was on track to achieve MDG Two with the net primary enrolment at 100% in 2013, yet, according to the UNDP MDG Progress Report for Africa 2015, only 67% of children are likely to complete primary school. According to the report: “This poor performance in primary completion is due to a number of factors including insufficient education infrastructure, limited choice for girls and other vulnerable social groups, inadequate consideration of the reality of traditionally hard-to-reach groups such as nomadic people, persons with disabilities, and children from disadvantaged economic and ethnic groups. The insufficient number of qualified teachers and the lack of relevant curricula to meet the needs of these groups are also root causes of the poor quality of education.”

Aside from enrolment rates, this goal emphasizes literacy for the population, especially the youth, which have a literacy rate of about 70% in Africa, according to UNDP data for 2012. This goal also focuses on equity between girls and boys in education.. Another interesting emphasis of this goal is its focus on life-long learning, which again acknowledges that work should be done on education beyond primary school. For example, target 4.4 (see below for all proposed targets) notes that individuals must acquire the skills needed for employment after completing their education rather than just saying education is successful because enrolment is at  100%. This part, however, is slightly more difficult to measure since looking just at unemployment won’t illustrate whether or not those leaving school are employable.

Proposed Targets:

4.1 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes

4.2 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education

4.3 By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university

4.4 By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship

4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations

4.6 By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial portion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy

4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development

4.a Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all

4.b By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries

4.c  By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States

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