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Education is central to the realization of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (also known as the Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs]). 

SDG 4 commits governments to ensuring “inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong opportunities for all”. In doing so, it explicitly addresses the challenges facing the most marginalised people – for example, women, girls and those with a disability – in accessing education. It specifies five targets that must be met to achieve the Goal:

  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective 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

A key document setting out a plan of action for implementing SDG4 is the 2015 Incheon Declaration.

In 2017, UNESCO, one of the leading international organisations in the field, published a Global Education Monitoring Report which looked at accountability in education. Its 2019 Report (published November 2018) focused on migration, displacement and education.

Another key player in achieving SDG4 is the Global Partnership for Education, which has been in existence since 2002. It is a 

multi-stakeholder partnership and funding platform that aims to strengthen education systems in developing countries in order to dramatically increase the number of children who are in school and learning.

[…] GPE brings together developing countries, donors, international organizations, civil society, teacher organizations, the private sector and foundations.

GPE has adopted as its vision the new Global Goal for education, calling for inclusive, equitable quality education for all by 2030. GPE 2020, GPE’s strategic plan for the next five years, turns this vision in actionable goals and objectives.

Over 65 developing countries are involved with the GPE.

The UK is a strong supporter of efforts to achieve SDG4 – for example, through its £500 million Girls Education Challenge, now in its second phase, and through its financial backing for the GPE, worth £225 million.

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