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About the SDG’s: Sustainable Development Goal 4

Since 2000, there has been enormous progress in achieving the target of universal primary education. The total enrolment rate in developing regions reached 91 per-cent in 2015, and the worldwide number of children out of school has dropped by al-most half. 

There has also been a dramatic increase in literacy rates, and many more girls are in school than ever before. These are all remarkable successes. 

Progress has also faced tough challenges in developing regions due to high levels of poverty, armed conflicts and other emergencies. In Western Asia and North Africa, ongoing armed conflict has seen an increase in the proportion of children out of school. This is a worrying trend. 

While sub-Saharan Africa made the greatest progress in primary school enrolment among all developing regions – from 52 percent in 1990, up to 78 percent in 2012 – large disparities still remain. Children from the poorest households are four times more likely to be out of school than those of the richest households. Disparities be-tween rural and urban areas also remain high. 

Achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. This goal ensures that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. It also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, and to eliminate gender and wealth disparities with the aim of achieving universal access to a quality higher education. 

Quality education is one of 17 Global Goals that make up the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. An integrated approach is crucial for progress across the multiple goals. 

Facts and Figures 

Enrollment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 percent. 
57 million 
Still, 57 million primary-aged children remain out of school, more than half of them in sub-Saharan Africa.. 
1 in 4 
In developing countries, one in four girls is not in school. 
About half of all out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas. 
103 million 
103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 percent of them are women. 
6 of 10 
6 out of 10 children and adoles-cents are not achieving a minimum level of proficiency in reading and math 

Goal 4 Targets 

  • 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 enrolment 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 the considerable progress on education access and participation over the past years, 262 million children and youth aged 6 to 17 were still out of school in 2017, and more than half of children and adolescents are not meeting minimum pro-ficiency standards in reading and mathematics. Rapid technological changes present opportunities and challenges, but the learning environment, the capacities of teach-ers and the quality of education have not kept pace. Refocused efforts are needed to improve learning outcomes for the full life cycle, especially for women, girls and mar-ginalized people in vulnerable settings. 

  • In 72 countries with recent data, approximately 7 in 10 children aged 3 and 4 were developmentally on track in at least three of the following domains: liter-acy-numeracy, physical development, social-emotional development and learn-ing. 
  • In 2015, an estimated 617 million children and adolescents of primary and lower secondary school age worldwide – more than 50 per cent – were not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics. Of these, about two thirds were attending school but were not learning in the classroom, or dropped out school. 
  • Some 750 million adults – two thirds of them women – remained illiterate in 2016. Half of the global illiterate population lives in South Asia, and a quarter live in sub-Saharan Africa. 
  • Many developing countries still lack basic infrastructure and facilities to provide effective learning environments. Sub-Saharan Africa faces the biggest challenges: at the primary and lower secondary levels, less than half of schools have access to electricity, the Internet, computers and basic drinking water. 
  • ODA for scholarships amounted to $1.3 billion in 2017. Australia, France, Japan, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and institutions of the European Union accounted for nearly two thirds of this total. 

Globally, there has been little progress in the percentage of primary school teachers who are trained: it has been stagnating at about 85 per cent since 2015. The proportion is lowest in sub-Saharan Africa (64 per cent). 


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