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Goal 4: Quality education

Goal 4: Quality education


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

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 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 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, 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.


  • 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 preprimary 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

 The SDG Fund response

Education is central to the SDG Fund programmes to promote gender equality, improve nutrition and create livelihoods opportunities.

For example,

  • In Colombia, the SDG Fund is to improve integration of educational institutions in rural areas through trainings, workshops and a water-themed contest. Despite being designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, deforestation coupled with the emergence of illicit crops and deregulated agricultural borders of indigenous rural communities have deteriorated the mountainous region and put water resources under pressure. 
  • In Mozambique, an SDG Fund joint programme is improving youth access to quality professional training. Young women and men in remote areas are increasing their prospects to find decent job opportunities within the extractive industries that often hire people from other parts of the country or from abroad.
  • In Sri Lanka, school feeding policies have been revised and new guidelines have been produced to improve the food quality of school canteens.  Manuals, informative fliers and other technical material is being produced together with the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Women and Child Affairs.

SDG Fund’s programmes contributing to SDG 4

Colombia

Productive and food secure territories for a peaceful and resilient Cauca

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Mozambique

More and better jobs in Cabo Delgado province and Nampula province - Harnessing the opportunities of the New Economy in Mozambique

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Sri Lanka

Scaling up nutrition through a multi-sector approach

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