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Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning
In September 2015 the United Nations made history - 193 member states unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): seventeen goals that the world aspires to achieve by 2030.
These goals aim to economically develop the world in a way that eliminates poverty, respects planetary boundaries and leaves no one behind. The international community agreed that every country is responsible for achieving these goals, and that all members of society - governments, business, and civil society - need to participate.
The SDGs are in direct alignment with the African Union’s Agenda 2063, the continent’s long-term transformational blueprint for the pan-African region. Agenda 2063 calls for all segments of African society to work together to build a prosperous and united Africa. The SDGs complement the first 15 years of the agenda, and strengthen it by being grounded in globally agreed upon values.
The SDGC/A aims to develop new tools to achieve the visions of the UN’s SDGs and the African Union’s (AU) Agenda 2063. Innovations in long-term planning, financing and data collection, as well as technical solutions in education, healthcare, energy systems and more are needed.
- By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes
- 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
- By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university
- 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
- 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
- By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy
- 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
- Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all
- 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 enrollment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries
- 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
- Despite progress, the world failed to meet the Millennium Development Goal of achieving universal primary education by 2015. In 2013, the latest year for which data are available, 59 million children of primary-school age were out of school. Estimates show that, among those 59 million children, 1 in 5 of those children had dropped out and recent trends suggest that 2 in 5 of out-of-school children will never set foot in a classroom. The Sustainable Development Goals clearly recognize that this gap must be closed, even as the international community more explicitly addresses the challenges of quality and equity.
- Measuring learning achievement, starting in the early grades, will help to identify where schools are failing to meet their commitments to children and to formulate appropriate remedial action. For example, data for 2013 from 15 Latin American countries show that in six countries, fewer than 50 per cent of third graders had a minimum level of proficiency in mathematics; in three countries, fewer than half were proficient in reading.
- At the end of primary school, children should be able to read and write and to understand and use basic concepts in mathematics. However, in 2014, between 40 per cent and 90 per cent of children failed to achieve even minimum levels of proficiency in reading, in 10 African countries, and in nine of those countries, between 40 per cent and 90 per cent of children failed to achieve minimum levels of proficiency in mathematics.
- The end of lower secondary education often coincides with the end of compulsory education. By this stage, young people should be able to master subject-related knowledge and skills and possess personal and social skills. Data from 38 countries in the developed regions show that, in the majority of those countries, at least 75 per cent of young people achieved at least a minimum proficiency in reading and/or mathematics; the same was true for only 5 out of 22 countries, in developing regions, for which data were available.
- Completion rates for both primary and lower secondary education has been rising steadily since 2000. Completion rates for primary education in both developed and developing regions exceeded 90 per cent in 2013. At the lower secondary level, the gap between developed and developing regions has narrowed substantially, but still stood at nearly 20 percentage points in 2013 (91 per cent for developed regions and 72 per cent for developing regions).
- Quality early education provides children with basic cognitive and language skills and fosters emotional development. In the majority of the 58 countries with available data for the period 2009-2015, more than half of children between the ages of 3 and 4 were developmentally on track in at least three of the following domains: literacy, numeracy, physical development, social-emotional development and learning.
- Goal 4 strongly supports the reduction of persistent disparities. Worldwide, in 2013, two thirds of the 757 million adults (aged 15 and over) who were unable to read and write were women. Globally, in 2013, 1 in 10 girls were out of school, compared to 1 in 12 boys. Children from the poorest 20 per cent of households are nearly four times more likely to be out of school than their richest peers. Out-of-school rates are also higher in rural areas and among children from households headed by someone with less than a primary education.
- To fulfil the promise of universal primary and secondary education, new primary school teachers are needed, with current estimates showing a need for nearly 26 million of them by 2030. Africa faces the greatest challenges in this regard, with nearly 7 in 10 countries experiencing acute shortages of trained primary school teachers. In 2013, only 71 per cent of teachers in sub-Saharan Africa and 84 per cent in Northern Africa were trained in accordance with national standards.
- Official development assistance for educational scholarships amounted to around $1.1 billion annually from 2011 to 2013. It totalled $1.2 billion in 2014, with Australia, France and Japan being the largest contributors.