Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Education
In September 2015, 193 world leaders committed to 17 Global Goals for sustainable development (the SDGs) to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet by 2030. Under SDG 4, the international community has pledged to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” This will require tremendous efforts on the part of all stakeholders, notably governments, donors and international organizations.
Education is at the heart of the global development agenda and, as we had hoped, the fourth goal on education is much more ambitious than its predecessor. The Goal 4 Targets for Quality Education, in general, seek to improve education through greater access and equity for all ages of learners as well as improved and safer learning space an expanded number of qualified teachers.
Goal 4 goes even further and through policy level commitments, recognizes the importance of Education in Emergencies and the need to address the educational needs of children in conflict and crisis. Target 4.5 in particular, “...seeks to 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.” In addition, Target 4.a seeks to protect educational facilities from attack by providing safe learning environments. Targets 4.5 and 4.a ensure that children in crisis-affected areas are on the SDG4 agenda at national and global levels.
Education in Emergencies and SDG4
Further references to how SDG4 is committed to the EiE are evident throughout the Education 2030 Framework for Action which provides guidance to the international community as they move forward in achieving SDG4 goals.
Specific references to education in conflict settings in the Framework for Action include:
- Paragraph 9: “It is, therefore, critical to develop education systems that are more resilient and responsive in the face of conflict, social unrest and natural hazards – and to ensure that education is maintained during emergency, conflict and post-conflict situations.
- Paragraph 25: “Crisis is a major barrier to access to education, stalling and in some cases reversing progress towards the EFA goals in the last decade. Education in emergency contexts is immediately protective, providing life-saving knowledge and skills and psychosocial support to those affected by crisis. Education also equips children, youth and adults for a sustainable future, with the skills to prevent disaster, conflict and disease.”
- Paragraph 26: “Countries must, therefore, institute measures to develop inclusive, responsive and resilient education systems to meet the needs of children, youth and adults in crisis contexts, including internally displaced persons and refugees.”
- Paragraphs 27: “Stakeholders should make every effort to ensure that education institutions are protected as zones of peace, free from violence, including school-related gender-based violence.”
- Paragraph 107: “Urgent efforts should be made to significantly increase support for education in humanitarian responses and protracted crises according to the needs and to ensure a rapid response to conflict and crisis situations.”
The World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) shows that, across 94 countries, the richest had completed at least 12 years of education (the SDG target) in 36 countries, but the same could only be said for the poorest in 3 countries.
The Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM) has done much work to help expose the extent of the challenges faced by the marginalized, showing that…
- the poorest are four times more likely to be out of school and five times more likely not to complete primary education than the richest.
- the proportion of out of school children in conflict affected countries has grown since 2000.
- nearly two thirds of adults with minimal literacy skills are women.
- 40% of the global population do not receive education in a language they speak or understand
- refugee children are five times more likely to be out of school than non refugees.
- neither universal lower secondary nor universal upper secondary will be reached by 2030 at recent rates of progress. It is projected that across low and middle income countries, the lower secondary completion rate will be 76% in 2030, while a rate of 95% will only be achieved in the 2080s.