What is SDG 4?
SDG 4 is among the 17 sustainable development Goals set up by the United nations
under the Agenda 30 in September 2015 and are intended to be achieved by the year
2030. The Agenda is “a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity”. The mission
statement of SDG 4 is “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote
lifelong learning opportunities for all”. It is a non profit project which aims to provide
the children with quality and easily accessible education plus other learning
As a policy matter education is a force multiplier which encourages
self-reliance, boosts economic growth and improves people’s
lives by opening the opportunities for better livelihoods.
Where did all it started from?
Since 1990s “Education for All” has been a popular slogan and given attention through different international development discourses. It was considered significant at the inception of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and tagged SDG 4. Education is seen as a source of power for sustainable development, nation building and peace. It is observed that children and young people who gain certain skills such as reading, writing, or counting are more likely to have better future than their peers who lack these skills. The world is changing and globalization requires the world population to quickly adapt and learn to work with newer technologies. Education makes this transition smooth.
Why is it important?
Education is an important factor which helps to achieve many other sustainable
development goals (SDGs). If people get quality education, they can come out of the cruel circle of poverty. Experts noted that more than half (662 million people) of those who live below the poverty line are minors. The poorest regions in the world are sub-Saharan Africa, where 58% of the population lives in poverty, and South Asia (31%). Education in these regions can reducing inequality and achieving gender equality. Another observation is that by putting effort in educational programs for girls and increasing the age of marriage will provide an income five times higher than the amount invested. Education also plays an important role in promoting tolerance in human relations and contributes to
the formation of more peaceful societies. Therefore contributes in making a better
What are its objectives?
The UN has defined 10 Targets and 11 Indicators for SDG 4. Targets specify the goals
and Indicators represent the metrics by which the world aims to track whether these targets are achieved. SDG4 has 10 targets. The seven “outcome-oriented targets” are:
4.1: .”free primary and secondary education”. Indicator 4.1.1: “Achieving proficiency in reading and mathematics” Indicator 4.1.1 is the proportion of children and young people (a) in grades 2/3; (b) at the end of primary; and (c) at the end of lower secondary achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics, by sex.
4.2: “Equal access to quality pre-primary education”. It is ensured by 2 indicators.
Indicator 4.2.1: “Ensuring children are developmentally on track” Indicator 4.2.1 is the proportion of children under 5 years of age who are developmentally on track in health, learning and psycho-social well-being, by sex. This is measured as the percentage of under-5 years who are developmentally on-track in at least three of the following four domains: literacy-numeracy, physical, socio-emotional and learning.
Indicator 4.2.2: Participation in pre-primary education”
Indicator 4.2.2 is the participation rate in organized learning (one year before the
official primary entry age), by sex.This is measured here as the net enrolment rate in
pre-primary education, which is the number of children of the relevant age group
enrolled in pre-primary as a percentage of the total population of that age group.
4.3: “Equal access to affordable technical, vocational and higher education”
It is looked after by ” Indicator 4.3.1: Equal access to further education”
Indicator 4.3.1 is the participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal
education and training in the previous 12 months, by sex.It is, however not clear how
this is supposed to be tracked.
4.4: “Increase the number of people with relevant skills for financial success”
Indicator 4.4.1: Information and communications technology (ICT) skills” Indicator 4.4.1 is the Proportion of youth and adults with information and communications technology (ICT) skills, by type of skill. There are a number of relevant ICT skills which could be measured for this indicator. Measured here is the share of youth and adults (aged 15-24 years old) with skills in creating electronic presentations with presentation software.
4.5: “Eliminate all discrimination in education”
Indicator 4.5.1: Disparities in educational access”
Indicator 4.5.1 is Parity indices (female/male, rural/urban, bottom/top wealth
quintile and others such as disability status, indigenous peoples and conflict-affected, as data become available) for all education indicators. This is measured as gender parity in school enrolment, school life expectancy, and completion rate.
4.6:” Universal literacy and numeracy”
Indicator 4.6.1: Universal literacy and numeracy”
Indicator 4.6.1 is the proportion of population in a given age group achieving at
least a fixed level of proficiency in functional (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills, by
sex. This is measured as the literacy rate (the share of the population with at least
functional literacy) for youth and adults, differentiated by sex.
4.7: “Education for sustainable development and global citizenship”
Education on sustainable development and global citizenship” Indicator 4.7.1 is the extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development, including gender equality and human rights, are mainstreamed at all levels in (a) national education policies; (b) curricula; (c) teacher education; and (d) student assessment.
And the remaining three are”means of achieving targets”:
4.a:.”build and upgrade inclusive and safe schools”
Inclusive and safe schools” Indicator 4.A.1 is the proportion of schools with access to (a) electricity; (b) the Internet for pedagogical purposes; (c) computers for pedagogical purposes; (d) adapted infrastructure and materials for students with disabilities; (e) basic drinking water; (f) single-sex basic sanitation facilities; and (g) basic handwashing facilities.
4.b:.”Expand higher education scholarships for developing countries”
Indicator 4.b.1 Scholarships for developing countries”
Indicator 4.b.1 is the volume of official development assistance flows for
scholarships. This indicator measures the levels of financial support and development assistance provided for education and training scholarships.
4.c:.”Increase the supply of qualified teachers in developing countries.”
Indicator 4.C.1: “
Supply of qualified teachers Indicator 4.C.1 is the proportion of teachers in (a) pre-primary; (b) primary; (c) lower secondary; and (d) upper secondary education who have received at least the minimum organized teacher training (e.g. pedagogical training) pre-service or in-service required for teaching at the relevant level in a given country.This is
measured as the share of pre-primary, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary
teachers who are qualified (meaning they have achieved at least the minimum
qualifications to teach at a given level).
What challenges does it faces?
Increase in primary education does not ensure the quality of the education or the full
primary education completion. Increment in enrollment of children in school does not
help to improve educational results. One out of four nations fails to reach the
minimum math proficiency standard population. 6 out of 10 children and adolescents
are not achieving a minimum level of proficiency in reading and math. Covid 19
affected 90%of the world’s student population. 1.5 billion children are having
disrupted access to education. Student’s learning opportunities are adversely
impacted by the limited access to the internet. Approximately 1/3rd of children lack
the technology to participate in online learning.
This pandemic has also resulted in the increment of the educational inequality with
the completion rate of 79% for well off people and 34% for poor populations.
It seems like more than 200 million children will still be out of reach of education by
2030.Thus these all challenges are creating hurdles for SDG4 and slowing down it’s
speed to reach its goal.
What are the custodian agencies for SDG 4 ?
Custodian agencies are United Nations bodies and are responsible for assembling
and checking country data and information, and for submitting the data, along with
regional and global data, to the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD). The
country’s data need to be universally correct. To this end, the agencies are also
responsible for developing international standards and recommending methodologies
The custodian agency for most of the indicators of the targets of SDG4 is
UNESCO-UIS. UNESCO is the custodian agency for some of the indicators. The
International Telecommunication Union is the custodian agency for Indicator 4.4.1.
OECD is the custodian agency for Indicator 4.b.1.UNESCO-ED/PSD/ESD is the
custodian agency for indicator 4.7.1.
Is India following SDG 4?
As per government of India records significant progress has been made in enrollment and completion rates of girls in both primary and elementary school. The net enrollment ratio in primary education for boys and girls was at 100%, while at the national level, the youth literacy rate was 94% for males and 92% for females. The new national Education Policy and Sustainable Development. Some of the important projects of Government of India to achieve SDG 4 includes Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan which aims at achieving
universal quality education for all Indians, and is contributing in this effort by
targeted schemes on higher education, nutritional support, and teacher training. Right
to Education (RTE) has given the boost to Indian education system.
The UN has declared the decade of 2020-2030 as the ‘decade for action’. However, it is also starting as the decade of resilience as the world is shaken up by the pandemic. In
an unprecedented move, the government has decided to make a bold and
transformative statement with the release of the New Education Policy.
What is global progress on SDG 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 percent
in 2015, and the worldwide number of children out of school has dropped by almost
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 been tough in some 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 number of children out of school.
This is a worrying trend. While Sub-Saharan Africa made the greatest progress in
primary school enrollment 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 up to four times more likely to be out of school than those of the
richest households. Disparities between 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, to
eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality
Is SDG 4 connected with other SDGs?
As we all know that Education is the key element for many other SDGs to be fulfilled .
Here is the list of SDGs which are connected to SDG4.
The five other SDGs with direct reference to education are –
1) Health and well-being (SDG 3 target 3.7)
– By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services,
including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of
reproductive health into national strategies and programmes
2) Gender equality (SDG 5 target 5.6)
-Number of countries with laws and regulations that guarantee women aged 15-49
years access to sexual and reproductive health care, information and education
3) Decent work and sustainable growth (SDG 8 target 8.6)
-By 2020 substantially reduce the proportion of youth not in employment, education
4) Responsible consumption & production (SDG 12 target 12.8)
-By 2030 ensure that people everywhere have the relevant information and awareness
for sustainable development and lifestyles in harmony with nature
5) Climate change mitigation (SDG 13 target 13.3)
-Improve education, awareness raising and human and institutional capacity on
climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction, and early warning.
Lets sum it up ! !
The World Summit on Sustainable Development (2015) under the auspices of the United Nations in New York, Member States formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for
Sustainable Development. This agenda provides for 17 goals, including a new global
goal education (SDG 4). The objective of thus goal is to provide quality and inclusive education to all. It has 10 targets and 11 indicators to measure its merits. Many improvements have been seen, but there are still hurdles to overcome especially COVID 19 pandemic has make the situation worst.