Gathering of most populous countries to focus on SDG 4–Education 2030

Representatives of the nine most-populated countries in the world will gather in Dhaka from 5 to 7 February to renew and align their cooperation in light of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) - Education 2030 Agenda.

The E-9 countries, comprised of Bangladesh, Brazil, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria and Pakistan, represent 53% of the world’s population, two-thirds of the world’s illiterate adults and nearly one-half of the world’s out-of-school children. Given the size and scope of the challenges they face, getting education right in the E-9 countries is critical to the achievement of the global education agenda.

E-9 countries face similar challenges. Overburdened classrooms, a lack of trained teachers and high rates of out-of-school children are among the hurdles these countries have been working to overcome since the network was formed to promote the Education for All agenda in 1993.

Rates of out-of-school children of primary school age have declined steadily among E-9 countries and globally, but the downward trend has been slower in Nigeria and Pakistan due to poverty and a high share of youth in the population. In most E-9 countries, girls are still more likely to be out of school than boys. According to UIS data, 32% of girls in Pakistan between the ages of 6 and 11 years old are out of school compared to 21% of boys. In Nigeria 40% of girls are not in school compared to 29% of boys. The numbers rise in secondary education. For example, in Pakistan, nearly 70% of adolescent girls are not enrolled in upper secondary education compared to 60% of boys. In India, 40% of youth are out of school at the upper secondary level, with males and females equally disadvantaged.

Youth literacy rates in E-9 countries have risen, in step with the global trend, but female youth, between the ages of 15 to 24, still form the majority of the illiterate youth population. In Nigeria and Pakistan, 80% of young men report being able to read and write, compared to about 65% of young women.

As attention now shifts to the more ambitious education and learning agenda of SDG 4, E-9 countries will face a broader set of challenges, addressing issues such as expanding opportunities for good quality early childhood development, basic education, youth and adult skills, and ensuring that systems are in place to routinely assess education progress, especially in relation to learning achievement and equity.

The ministerial meeting provides an opportunity to leverage the network’s EFA experience and foster a common understanding of the implications of SDG 4 for national education legislation, policy, planning, financing, management, coordination and monitoring.

To this end, the UIS offers a range of services to help countries produce and use education data – from training workshops and data quality assessment tools to the opportunity to contribute to the development of methodologies and indicators for learning through the Global Alliance to Monitor Learning (GAML).