8 years to go

Fast-tracking the ­implementation of SDG4
As the year 2030 draws closer, the Transforming Education summit brings to light the action plans set out to reach the full implementation of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goal 4, on quality education.
As the year 2030 draws closer, the Transforming Education summit brings to light the action plans set out to reach the full implementation of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4.

With the recent conferences that took place nationwide and the pre-summit that concluded in Paris on 30 June, Namibia and the rest of the world are left with eight years before plans set out in the Education 2030: Incheon Declaration and Framework for implementation of the quality education goal are to be fully implemented.

At the pre-summit, heads of state and the government was urged to “push education to the top of the political agenda” as the growth of the sector was tremendously hindered due to Covid-19, according to a call for action sent out by the Education 2030 High-Level Steering Committee. Meanwhile, based on a consultation held by Action Track 1 committee members, led by Italy and Namibia, the SDG4 implementation had been off-track even before the pandemic hit the world.

“The learning crisis happened before the pandemic, with 262 million children out of school,” Maria Nguyen, the SDG4 youth global representative, said.

Five thematic action plans were set out for the world to be one step closer to the SDG4. These include:

Action Track 1: Inclusive, equitable safe and healthy schools

Co-led by Namibia and Italy

Inclusivity plays an important role across the five action plans set out. According to the schematic plan for transforming education, this is to ensure all learners have access to education, free from any disturbances as well as ensuring a safe and healthy environment. This includes removing violence and discrimination from the learning environment. The inclusivity sets out to include learners across racial and language barriers. Marginalised groups identified are persons living with disabilities, homeless and street children, children in care homes and orphanages as well as difficult-to-reach groups. These groups are usually not all included in data and this action track hopes to overcome those barriers.

Some of the needs are highlighted within three categories:

Immediate needs: Include fast-tracking learners who were negatively impacted by Covid-19 and tracking all dropouts.

Medium-term: Aims to fast-track SDG4.

Longer-term: Highlighted transformations are set require more investment and financial reform.

Action Track 2: Learning skills for life and sustainable development

Co-led by Japan, Colombia and WordSkills International

Throughout this track, the importance of developing skills through technical and vocational training is emphasised as a means to eradicate poverty. For the changing circumstances faced by today’s societies, the upskilling and reskilling of individuals is also highlighted as an important aspect to achieving education for sustainable development (ESD). Furthermore, one of the key aspects highlighted in a Unesco paper is the evolving of society. The developing green and digital era the world is approaching requires ‘new skills’ within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields as well as literacy and digital literacy, political engagement, global citizenship and innovation, to name a few. Throughout Action Track 2, what remains imperative is the successful implementation of ESD through the acquisition of skills.

Action Track 3: Teachers, teaching and the teaching profession

Co-led by Nigeria, Romania and the International Task Force on Teachers for Education

Teachers and educators remain an integral part to fast-tracking the SGD4. Improving the resources teachers are equipped with as well as compensating them accordingly are important aspects brought forth in the discussion paper related to teachers. However, under track three, remuneration is placed under longer-term objectives. This while mitigating the effects of Covid-19 through opening the pool through which teachers can enter the system is encouraged. This includes extending contracts and re-employing retired teachers as well as encouraging refugee teachers to be a part of the system.

In the Education 2030 action plan, by 2030, an ideal number of 69 million teachers is needed globally to meet SDG4. However, in Sub-Saharan Africa, it is estimated that a million teachers will still be needed.

Action Track 4: Digital learning and transformation

Co-led by Greece, Singapore and Ed Tech Hub

Education has been met with other hindering factors. The first challenge highlighted by the Action Track 4 discussion paper is the focus on the type of hardware provided instead of focusing on high quality education content. The crossover between good practices in education to technology has also hindered the growth of technology in education.

According to the paper, approximately two of every three youth have no internet access at home, and more than a million are without the necessary hardware to access the internet. Additionally, another challenge is the lack of relatable software to marginalised groups. Software - as stated in the paper – is mostly designed to be accessed by privileged learners, which requires a higher cost outcome.

Action Track 5: Financing of education

Co-led by Belgium, Fiji and Global Campaign for Education

Finances play a big role in achieving the SDG4. According to the paper released by Unesco on this action track, an extra amount of US$200 billion is required globally to fast track the SGD4 achievements by 2030.

The paper further underlines the importance of increasing the financing of education by: Increasing the size of government budgets; increasing the share of national budgets allocated to education; applying sensitivity when deciding on budget allocations driven by evidence-based support, as well as scrutinising the spending in the budget.

Additional information from transformingeducationsummit.sdg4education2030.org