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January 25, 2017
New partnerships for Digital Education: Rising to the challenge of SDG4

Raising quality education is at the core of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. More than 50 million children around the world are out of primary school and it is estimated that 24 million children will never go to school. Most of them live in countries and areas affected by armed conflict. Education is a key driver for social change and poverty eradication. Every US$1 million invested in education translates into US$10 million in economic growth.

The SDG Fund and the International Peace Institute are convening a breakfast discussion on education, SDGs and information technologies. In particular, the event will try to respond to the question on how public and private actors can find new ways to partner to address these challenges using digital education technologies. Leaving no one behind, a promise of the SDGs, starts by ensuring that every boy and girl has the opportunity to quality education. Technology and digital education are central to achieving SDG 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all.

Affordable, reliable and context-sensitive digital education, can promote equal opportunities for girls and boys and reduce inequalities by ensuring every child has access to high quality content. Digital education technologies improves fundamental skills such as collaboration, problem solving and global awareness. It can easily connect boys and girls from different parts of the world with the possibility of sharing their content with peers living kilometres away. Equally important, learning technology can open future job opportunities.

ProFuturo, a new initiative of Telefonica Foundation and La Caixa Bank, is already using technology to provide education in refugee camps and provides answers to their specific needs in terms of adapted curricula, teachers training and infrastructure constraints. Furthermore, ProFuturo is an initiative to improve the education of more than 10 million children over a five-year period in Africa, Latin America and Asia, with the aim of improving equal opportunities around the world.

To be up to this challenge, new partnerships between governments, education sector, technology companies and international development actors are necessary. The event, happening against the backdrop of the United Nations 55th Commission of Social Development, will offer different perspectives on how the public and private sector are actively supporting the implementation of digital education technologies. This debate will be in line with this year Commission theme on “Strategies for the eradication of poverty to achieve sustainable development for all”, as digital education should be one of these strategies.

The breakfast meeting will focus on the following questions: What are concrete examples where the UN, Governments and the Private Sector are working together in making the best use of digital education?  How can digital education contribute to intercultural dialogue and provide education in a conflict situation?  What models of partnerships might have the greatest impact?

The SDG Fund is a UN mechanism established to bring together the efforts of UN Agencies, governments and businesses in joint initiatives to achieve the SDGs. IPI is a think tank that works closely with the UN and has recently launched a new project-- “SDGs for Peace”-- focused on the interlinkages between the sustainable development goals and peace.


  • Ms. Paloma Durán, Director Sustainable Development Goals Fund
  • Mr. Joseph Teo, Deputy Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Singapore
  • H.E. Mr. Anthony Bosah, Chargé d’Affaires, the Federal Republic of Nigeria to the UN (TBC)
  • Ms. Madhavi Ashok, Senior Advisor and Team Leader, UN Partnerships at UNICEF
  • Mr. Cesar Alierta, President Foundation Telefonica

Ms. Jimena Leiva Roesch, Senior Policy Analyst, International Peace Institute

Watch dialogue "New Partnerships for Digital Education"

Some key figures

  • 59 million children of primary school age are being denied an education, and almost 65 million adolescents are without access to a secondary school
  • Conflict and natural disasters have disrupted the education of 75 million children
  • Every US$1 million invested in education translates into US$10 million in economic growth.
  • 130 million children enrolled in school who are not even learning the basics
  • Nearly 15 million girls of primary school age will never have the opportunity to learn to read and write in primary school
  • There are 168 million child labor workers aged 5 to 17. This is one reason many children cannot attend school
  • 25 million children will never go to school
  • Equitable access to quality education can help a country raise its GDP by 23%.