SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all


By Antonia Wulff, Education International (EI)

Of all the SDGs adopted in September 2015, the measurement of progress on the education goal – SDG 4 – was arguably among the best prepared. With more than 25 years of a common global agenda, the education sector had an established architecture for cooperation and monitoring, and an obvious lead agency in UNESCO. Yet, four years in, UNESCO is underfunded to the point of incapacitation, leaving a vacuum that a range of other actors are working to fill. Add to this the failure to distinguish between the different roles and responsibilities of the [...]


By Antonia Wulff, Education International

For about 12 hours there was a target on education financing in what was about to become the 2030 Agenda. It was proposed in the very last round of negotiations of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals and it did not take long before it was shot down; Member States said it was not feasible to prescribe percentages of public spending to the different goals, and that it would place the goals in competition with each other. Subsequent Financing for Development negotiations saw Member States reject the proposed commitment to “setting [...]


By Aidan Eyakuze, Twaweza East Africa

A colleague, with a long career in Tanzania’s public education system as a teacher and school inspector under his belt, visited a school in a rural district to check on whether the teachers were present at school and teaching in the classroom. When he walked into a Standard Two class, he found about 50 eight-year olds sitting there, unsupervised and untaught. They did not know where their teacher was. He went to investigate and the head teacher could not explain the teacher’s absence either.

A few minutes later, my colleague returned to the class, to [...]


By Antonia Wulff, Education International (EI)

SDG 4 on education and target 4.1 to ensure young people “complete free primary and secondary education” has so far been reflected mainly in the mobilization of teachers unions and civil society organizations against so-called ‘low-fee’ private schools – notably those run by Bridge International Academies and against the World Bank’s support for these profiteers in education. Yet, this is only one of the dimensions of privatization and commercialization that requires scrutiny within the realization of SDG 4.

SDG 4 could be summarized as more [...]


The United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) has recommended, in its observations released on 9 June 2016,1 that the UK Government stop investing in low-fee private schools in developing countries. Low-fee, private and informal schools run by for-profit business enterprises are multiplying rapidly in developing countries. The UNCRC noted that “rapid increase in the number of such schools may contribute to sub-standard education, less investment in free and quality public schools, and deepened inequalities in the recipient countries, leaving behind children who cannot afford [...]


By Jorge Osorio-Vargas, Professor at the Escuela de Psicología, Universidad de Valparaíso (Chile).

Goal 4 of the 2030 Agenda reflects the aspirations and demands of parents, educators and civil society organizations to meet the educational and learning needs of the poor, discriminated and exploited populations in every country in the world. Its formulation goes far beyond the scope of the MDGs, which focused on achieving universal primary education in MDG 2 and on closing the gender gaps in education as the measure of gender equality in MDG 3. In adding the equitable, inclusive and quality [...]