TCG 8: Improving monitoring of SDG 4 through country collaboration

By Silvia Montoya, Director of the UIS and Manos Antoninis, Director of the GEM Report

The eighth meeting of the Technical Cooperation Group (TCG), set up to develop the monitoring indicators of the Education 2030 agenda, took place yesterday. As this blog describes, the group presented the many pieces of work being carried out to improve data collection on SDG 4 and develop new methodologies and practices for comparing and analysing progress at global level, while it discussed new working arrangements to increase country involvement and ownership.

The TCG has finalized methodologies for all SDG 4 indicators

Since its creation in 2016, working by consensus and led by the UIS, the TCG has developed and endorsed clear methodologies for all education indicators, enabling clear reporting on the progress against all SDG 4 targets. As the below time chart shows, the number of indicators reported increased from 29 in 2017, to 37 in 2019 and 43 in 2021.

TCG Working Groups

Prior to the TCG 8 meeting this week, four working groups and the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML) met to prepare recommendations for the plenary

  1. The Teachers Working Group reviewed the International Standard Classification of Teacher Training Programmes (ISCED-T), that will support the monitoring of SDG target 4.c. ISCED-T is a framework that addresses the challenges in monitoring posed by differences among national teacher training programmes. Its implementation would enable the production of cross-nationally comparable statistics on teacher training. The UIS will present ISCED-T for adoption at the 41st UNESCO General Conference next week.
  2. The Household Surveys Working Group focused on discussing a proposal by the GEM Report and the UIS aiming at harmonizing data sources to calculate the out-of-school rate  for SDG indicator 4.1.4. The working group also addressed ways of reporting on disability in education indicators.
  3. The  Administrative Data/EMIS Working Group reviewed a set of user-friendly tools developed by the UIS to help compile national education data from different sources into relevant education levels and categories. Countries can use these templates for transferring national data to international data and indicators without the need for many resources.  As part of this working group, the UIS proposed a hybrid approach to the use of population data for education indicators. Three alternative solutions were suggested based on methods used by the United Nations Population Division to compute population-based indicators.
  4. The Expenditure Data Working Group discussed proposals for collecting and reporting data beyond 2021. This year, the UIS has worked on combining sources to expand coverage and improve timeliness of global Indicator 1.a.2 data and the related indicator on total public expenditure in education as a percentage of gross domestic product. These user-friendly tools for compiling national education data on expenditure on education will help solve multiple problems faced in the collection of expenditure data, including low response rates, and multiple and conflicting figures for the same country.
  5. The Global Alliance to Monitor Learning presented developments on methodologies, the use of learning assessments and the progress on strategies to improve ways of linking national assessments for global comparison. In particular, progress was presented onsubject-based linking approaches (based on students sitting for two different assessments), such as Rosetta Stone and MILO,as well as non-statistical approaches, such as policy linking. Among other interesting and innovative approaches, the progress of SDG global Indicator 4.6.1 measuring youth and adult skills was presented by the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning, as it has entered an implementation phase in 3 countries, a broad effort of capacity development that deserves close attention in 2022.

SDG 4 benchmarks

Establishing benchmarks for selected SDG 4 indicators will help fulfil a neglected commitment of the Education 2030 Framework for Action, which had called on countries to establish “appropriate intermediate benchmarks (e.g. for 2020 and 2025)”. Benchmarks mark each country’s voluntary contribution to the achievement of SDG 4, while also helping global, regional and national targets align with each other. Despite the importance of this process, most countries had not translated the global into national targets to report their progress.

The TCG discussed efforts made by the UIS and the GEM Report to guide governments in setting their national benchmarks for seven SDG 4 indicators. Regional organizations from the Caribbean, Africa, the Arab States and Asia, as well as countries, such as India, Mexico, Nepal and Senegal, presented their experiences from applying these approaches. The results of the benchmarking process will be presented next week at the Global Education Meeting, which takes place during the UNESCO General Conference.

The way forward

While progress has been made in many areas of monitoring SDG 4 indicators – the TCG aims to foster bigger engagement by all countries to strengthen ownership of methodological developments, contribute to the development and monitoring of joint plans to fill data gaps, and engage in setting and reviewing benchmarks.


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