Today, the EFA Global Monitoring Report releases a critical review of the post-2015 education targets in the paper, Where do the proposed education targets fall short? This paper underscores the importance of formulating feasible, specific and relevant targets to ensure more effective implementation, rigorous monitoring and greater progress in education in the future.
At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, 192 member states called for a set of sustainable development goals that “address and incorporate in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and their interlinkages.” The sustainable development goals to be proposed would be “action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries.”
Following Rio+20, an Open Working Group (OWG) was created and tasked with preparing a proposal for a limited number of transformative and universally applicable development goals. Each goal would be accompanied by clear targets with measurable outcomes. After a long and complex consultation process the OWG proposed seventeen sustainable development goals (SDG) in July 2014, including one dedicated to education:
SDG Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
The proposed education goal was accompanied by 7 targets and 3 means of implementation (see Figure 1 below). It reflects a broader policy agenda than the corresponding MDGs, which mainly focused on primary education completion and gender parity in education.
In December 2014 the UN Secretary General published a Synthesis Report opening a small window for discussion of how targets are formulated. It stated that ‘measurable targets and technically rigorous indicators’ were needed, and that each target should be framed ‘in language that is specific, measurable, achievable and consistent with UN standards and agreements’. The Report encouraged the conduct of a review of the targets with contributions by technical experts outside the UN System.
As a contribution to this process the Education for All Global Monitoring Report team, drawing on its monitoring of the EFA goals and targets since 2002, has prepared a new policy paper that critically reviews the SDG education targets and means of implementation. The paper, Where do the proposed education targets fall short?, offers an analysis of the proposed targets and suggests the basis for governments, policy makers and other stakeholders to offer revisions of the current target formulations.
Any revisions to the targets will be the result of the intergovernmental negotiations in New York, which resumed in January. However, the potential contribution of existing structures to this process is recognized. In particular, the role of the EFA Steering Committee as a sector group that can add to the debate has been acknowledged. In its last meeting in Paris on 5-6 February, the EFA Steering Committee tackled the issue of target formulation and decided to submit its recommendation in the coming days. These recommendations will be used to persuade member states to make changes that are needed to make the targets ‘specific, measurable, achievable’. We invite the EFA Steering Committee to look at the review of the EFA Global Monitoring Report team.
As we approach the 70th Session of the UN General Assembly in late September 2015, when member states will adopt a new global development agenda with a set of Sustainable Development Goals at its core, it is vital that the international community adopts a series of clear targets for education that are realistic, specific and achievable.
Figure 1: Targets for Sustainable Development Goal 4: ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’
|By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning 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 quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university
|By 2030, increase by x% 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 at least x% of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy
|By 2030, ensure all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including among others through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotions of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of cultures contribution to sustainable development
|Means of implementation
|Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all
|By 2020, expand by x% globally the number of scholarships for developing countries in particular LDCs, SIDS and African countries to enroll in higher education, including vocational training, ICT, technical, engineering and scientific programmes in developed countries and other developing countries.
|By 2030, increase by x% the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially LDCs and SIDS