Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong opportunities for all
Goal 4 aims to ensure that all people have access to quality education and lifelong learning opportunities. The Goal focuses on the acquisition of foundational and higher-order skills at all stages of education and development; greater and more equitable access to quality education at all levels as well as technical and vocational education and training (TVET); and the knowledge, skills and values needed to function well and contribute to society.
Children are less likely to attend school if they live in rural areas, are poor or have parents with little or no education
Despite progress, the world failed to meet the MDG of universal primary education by 2015. In 2013, the latest year for which data are available, 59 million children of primary school age and 65 million adolescents of lower secondary age were out of school. Most of them were girls. Survey data from 63 low- and middle-income countries between 2008 and 2012 show that children of primary school age from the poorest 20 per cent of households were more than four times as likely to be out of school as their richest peers. Children, especially girls, from households headed by someone with less than a primary education were more than four times as likely to be out of school as children from households headed by someone with a secondary or higher education.
Fundamental skills provide a solid foundation to young people for further learning throughout their life
Quality education should lead to the acquisition of fundamental skills, such as literacy and numeracy, and higher level skills. The end of lower secondary school often coincides with the end of compulsory education. By this stage, students should be able to master subject-related knowledge and skills, possess personal and social skills and have a solid foundation for further learning throughout life. Data from 38 countries in the developed regions show that, in the majority of these countries, at least 75 per cent of young people achieved at least minimum proficiency in reading and/or mathematics; the same was true for only 5 of the 22 countries with data in developing regions.
More than half of children aged 3 and 4 in selected countries are developmentally on track in physical, learning and psycho-social well-being
Early childhood development is multidimensional, encompassing several aspects of a child’s well-being: physical, social, emotional and mental. Despite variations in the pace and rate at which children develop, all children have an inherent right to develop to their fullest potential. In 54 of 58 countries with available data for the period 2009−2015, at least half of children aged 3 and 4 were developmentally on track in at least three of the following domains: literacy-numeracy, physical development, social-emotional development, and learning.
Increasing access to learning opportunities throughout life
Education for sustainable development and global citizenship addresses pressing and overarching requirements of society: ‘living together’ and the ‘relationship with nature’. These are critical avenues for a sustainable and peaceful future for all. Equitable access to TVET and higher education is also promoted. Although enrolments in TVET in upper secondary rose by one-third between 2000 and 2013, the share of TVET fell from 26 per cent to 22 per cent. Tertiary education has expanded rapidly over the same period with enrolments doubling globally and increasing by 2.5 times in developing regions with almost equal numbers of men and women enrolled. However, worldwide, in 2013, there were still 757 million adults unable to read and write, of whom two-thirds were women.
Proportion of out-of-school children of primary-school age in selected countries, by sex, location, household wealth, and education of the household head, 2008-2012 (percentage)