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Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

SDGs and Education

In September 2015, 193 world leaders committed to 17 Global Goals for sustainable development (the SDGs) to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet by 2030. Under SDG 4, the international community has pledged to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.” This will require tremendous efforts on the part of all stakeholders, notably governments, donors and international organizations.

Education is at the heart of the global development agenda and, as we had hoped, the fourth goal on education is much more ambitious than its predecessor. The Goal 4 Targets for Quality Education, in general, seek to improve education through greater access and equity for all ages of learners as well as improved and safer learning space an expanded number of qualified teachers.

Goal 4 goes even further and through policy level commitments, recognizes the importance of Education in Emergencies and the need to address the educational needs of children in conflict and crisis. Goal 4.5 in particular, “...seeks to 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.” In addition, Goal 4.a seeks to protect educational facilities from attack by providing safe learning environments.  Goals 4.5 and 4.a ensure that children in crisis-affected areas are on the SDG4 agenda at national and global levels.

Education in Emergencies and SDG4

Further references to how SDG4 is committed to the EiE are evident throughout the Education 2030 Framework for Action which provides guidance to the international community as they move forward in achieving SDG4 goals.

Specific references to education in conflict settings in the Framework for Action include:

  • Paragraph 9: “It is, therefore, critical to develop education systems that are more resilient and responsive in the face of conflict, social unrest and natural hazards – and to ensure that education is maintained during emergency, conflict and post-conflict situations.
  • Paragraph 25: “Crisis is a major barrier to access to education, stalling and in some cases reversing progress towards the EFA goals in the last decade. Education in emergency contexts is immediately protective, providing life-saving knowledge and skills and psychosocial support to those affected by crisis. Education also equips children, youth and adults for a sustainable future, with the skills to prevent disaster, conflict and disease.”
  • Paragraph 26: “Countries must, therefore, institute measures to develop inclusive, responsive and resilient education systems to meet the needs of children, youth and adults in crisis contexts, including internally displaced persons and refugees.”
  • Paragraphs 27: “Stakeholders should make every effort to ensure that education institutions are protected as zones of peace, free from violence, including school-related gender-based violence.”
  • Paragraph 107: “Urgent efforts should be made to significantly increase support for education in humanitarian responses and protracted crises according to the needs and to ensure a rapid response to conflict and crisis situations.”

For further EiE references in the Framework for Action click here.


Key Stats

The World Inequality Database on Education (WIDE) shows that, across 94 countries, the richest had completed at least 12 years of education (the SDG target) in 36 countries, but the same could only be said for the poorest in 3 countries.

The Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM) has done much work to help expose the extent of the challenges faced by the marginalized, showing that…

Key Activities

Incheon Declaration

The World Education Forum 2015 (WEF) in Incheon, Republic of Korea was an historic opportunity to reframe the global education agenda as the international community designed the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030. The global education agenda 2000-2015 was developed in reference to both the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All (EFA) frameworks. WEF confirmed the contours of the proposed future education agenda. This new agenda is outlined in the Incheon Declaration ‘Education 2030: Towards inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all’ adopted at the WEF conference. It reaffirms and supports SDG4 on education to: ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’.

Paragraph 11 of the Incheon Declaration in particular, highlights the commitment “to developing more inclusive, responsive and resilient education systems to meet the needs of children, youth and adults in crisis-affected areas, including internally displaced persons and refugees.”

Education 2030 Framework for Action

On 4 November 2015 in Paris, the international education community adopted the Education 2030 Framework for Action, the foundation that will anchor global efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4). This marked the end of a crucial process that began with national, regional and global consultations, leading to the commitment made in May 2015 at the World Education Forum in Incheon to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”(Incheon Declaration) including the internally displaced and refugees.

The Framework for Action (FFA) is the roadmap to lead the international community and national governments in their efforts to achieve SDG 4 over the next 15 years. It guides all actors working at country, regional, and global level to work in synergy towards a common goal. And it provides a set of indicative strategies- ‘different recipes’- to support the achievement of targets to be adapted by each country.

Learn more about the Framework for Action here and from the guide book Unpacking Sustainable Development Goal 4 Education 2030.

SDG 4 Data Tracking

New and improved data and indicators are needed to monitor progress, identify bottlenecks and sharpen policies to ensure that every dollar invested in education makes a tangible difference to people’s lives. At present, however, the world gathers only around one-half of the data needed to monitor progress based on SDG 4 global education indicators.

The UIS Sustainable Development Data Digest and UNESCO eAtlas for Education 2030 are designed to address gaps in data and to coordinate expertise and thought leadership on the evolution of the current monitoring agenda. Other data tools from UNESCO include: 

  • The Quick Guide to Education Indicators for SDG 4 describes the process of developing and producing the global monitoring indicators while explaining how they can be interpreted and used. This is a hands-on, step-by-step guide for anyone who is working on gathering or analyzing education data.
  • The SDG 4 Data Book: Global Education Indicators 2018 ensures that readers have the latest available data for the global monitoring indicators at their fingertips, and will be regularly updated.   
  • The SDG 4 Data Explorer, designed for policymakers and analysts, displays data by country, region or year; by data source; and by sex, location and wealth. It allows users to explore the measures of equality that are crucial for the achievement of SDG 4. 
  • The SDG 4 Country Profiles present the latest available SDG 4 global indicators in charts and graphs that are easy to understand. For those who need quick facts on specific countries, this is the place to come. 


UNESCO eAtlas for Education 2030

This eAtlas presents the global and thematic indicators identified by the international community to monitor each of the SDG 4 targets. It will be regularly updated as new information becomes available. For example, five of the targets involve the measurement of learning. Yet there is currently no agreed-upon framework to produce internationally-comparable indicators in this field. The UIS is launching several initiatives to bridge this gap while providing ‘placeholder’ or temporary indicators to shed light on the issues in the interim. Some of these placeholders are based on different sources of information and therefore cannot be compared across countries.


Key Resources




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