2024 SDG 4 Scorecard now out: see how countries are progressing towards their national targets

Global goals are aspirational, but there is a risk that countries lack a sense of ownership of them. National SDG 4 benchmarks were conceived to address this risk. This second edition of the SDG 4 Scorecard demonstrates the efforts that countries have been making since 2015 towards achieving their 2025 and 2030 national benchmarks – their targets, which represent their intended contributions to the achievement of SDG 4, the global education goal.

Source: 2024 SDG 4 Scorecard by UIS and GEM Report

Eight in ten countries have now set benchmarks against at least one indicator, a demonstration of the increased recognition of this new global way of monitoring progress towards SDG 4. This high participation demonstrates that the process is fulfilling one of its key objectives: to increase ownership of the agenda at the national level.

Benchmarks also help keep the global SDG 4 process relevant by being flexible as new education priorities emerge: in 2023, countries set benchmarks for an eighth indicator, school internet connectivity, in response to the priority assigned to digital transformation at the UN Transforming Education Summit in 2022.

Countries’ benchmarks demonstrate governments’ willingness to be held accountable for progress, first and foremost to their own people. While the SDG Summit showed that progress towards all global education targets was well off track, the 2024 SDG 4 Scorecard shows that progress towards national targets is also insufficient. Countries are making good progress in connecting schools to the internet and in raising teacher qualifications, but progress on the six other benchmark indicators is not on course. For instance, two thirds of countries with data have made no or slow progress towards their upper secondary completion rate targets since 2015. Countries are even moving backwards on closing gender gaps in upper secondary completion and on public expenditure on education.

The 2024 SDG 4 Scorecard was launched today at the UNESCO Conference of Education Data and Statistics, which will also recognize and celebrate countries’ contributions to the benchmarking process. The event is also an opportunity to drive the political process that supports benchmarking – a process not all countries are yet acquainted with and one that is particularly novel in an international context, and especially in education. Countries were invited to set national targets as part of their participation in the implementation of a global agenda. New ways of working are needed at the international level to collaborate with countries, provide them with transparent updates on the assessment of their progress and give them the chance to contest findings, seek clarifications or propose corrections.

This 2024 Scorecard edition also shows that the benchmark process requires data of better quality. This requires work on definitions, such as on what it means to be a qualified and trained teacher. It also requires better shared understanding of the appropriate data sources to monitor some indicators. These actions and others will help fill notable data gaps on some of the most important policy-related indicators. For example, there are no data for 32% of country-indicator pairs and not enough data to estimate trends for another 14% of them. Efforts are particularly needed to measure proficiency in reading and mathematics, for which data are missing in 73% of the pairs.

Data can inject momentum into policy agendas and inform policy planning and development. More work is needed to use the SDG 4 Scorecard as a starting point to explain what policies are linked to slow or fast progress. All of us working on education share a responsibility to help countries reach the national benchmarks they are committed to achieve.



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