Education is the fourth of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The goal aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Although education is a right for many children across much of the developed world, in Africa, Asia, and parts of South America, many children grow up without access to education or having to travel miles in order to access it.


Kids at School

Education in the developing world is rapidly improving and more and more children are at least getting a primary education. Currently, enrolment of children in primary schools in developing world is at 91% but there are still 57 million children who do not have access to an education. Of those 57 million children without education, more than half of those live in sub-Saharan countries- conflict is a huge contributor to this. Finally, 103 million children in the world lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60% of those are women.

Benefits of Education

There are a number of benefits to encouraging education in developing countries. Global Giving believe that more than 170 million people can be lifted out of poverty, just by learning basic reading skills- that would contribute immensely to the success of SDG 1 of ‘No Poverty’. Like with SDG 1, giving children and adults a basic education will contribute in some form to the success of other SDGs. As I stated above, of those children who lack basic literacy skills, 60% are women. Education can not only close the gap but also, as we’ll see next week, empower women all over the world.


Goal 4 Targets

There are 10 targets of Goal 4 to improve education so it is at the same standard all over the world:

  • 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, 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

“Without universal education, in other words, winning the war against illiteracy and ignorance, we cannot also win the war against disease, squalor and unemployment. Without universal and high standard education we can only go so far but not far enough in breaking the cycle of poverty.”

– Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education

Next Week

Gender equality and women’s empowerment is the fifth Sustainable Development Goal so come back next week to see what the UN are looking to do to improve that around the world!


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