SDG4. Mapping Momentum to 2030.

Mapping the conversation on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal for Education.

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The Evolution of SDG4.

Achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4) – “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”, may well be the most important of these global goals as it provides a foundation of human capital who are equipped to realize all SDGs.

HolonIQ has been tracking the conversation around SDG4 since their commencement and the graphic below provides a summary of the volume of global news and ‘signals’ that mention SDG4 over the past 5 years. Momentum has been building over the last two years and is likely to continue as SDG4 initiatives start to produce outcomes, however data to map progress remains a substantial challenge.


1945-1990. The Right to Education.

The right to education was enshrined in UNESCO’s constitution in 1945 following the guiding fundamental principles of non-discrimination, equality of opportunity, universal access and solidarity. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights  was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (GA) on December 10, 1948 and defined education as a fundamental human right.

The move for greater international cooperation in education began in 1990 with the adoption of the World Declaration on Education for All, in Jomtien, Thailand, by some 150 governmental and non-governmental organizations. The aim was to create universal access to basic education for all children, youth and adults by the end of the decade.

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2000 - 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

In 2000, the United Nations adopted 8 Millennium Development Goals with Goal 2 being to achieve universal primary education by 2015. “Ensure that, by 2015, children everywhere, boys and girls alike, will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling.”

  • Enrolment in primary education in developing regions reached 91 per cent in 2015, up from 83 per cent in 2000.
  • In 2015, 57 million children of primary school age were out of school.
  • Among youth aged 15 to 24, the literacy rate has improved globally from 83 per cent to 91 per cent between 1990 and 2015, and the gap between women and men has narrowed.
  • In the developing regions, children in the poorest households are four times as likely to be out of school as those in the richest households
  • In countries affected by conflict, the proportion of out-of-school children increased from 30 per cent in 1999 to 36 per cent in 2012.
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2015-2030. Sustainable Development Goals.

In September 2015, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that incorporated 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) including SDG4 – “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Notwithstanding progress made toward SDG4, there were 262 million young people between 6 to 17 years of age who were out of school in 2017 and less than half of children are meeting minimum maths and reading proficiency standards.


Tracking Progress Toward SDG4.

Data to track progress toward SDG4 and calculate trend remains a significant challenge.

In 2018, 63% of countries assessed on progress towards SDG4 targets did not have data of sufficient coverage, quality or recency to assess progress, 12% did not have enough data points to establish a trend to achievement of SDG4 to 2030.

Data from 15% indicated that acceleration is needed for SDG4 to be met by 2030 and 10% are on track to meet, or have already achieved SDG4 targets.


Where is this data coming from?

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Mapping the conversation on the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal for Education.