Learn more about SDG 4 Indicators 4.a.1, 4.b.1 and 4.c.1
The blogs in this series have examined the indicators that measure progress towards the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4), from learning outcomes to education that promotes sustainable development. In this final blog, however, we focus on three indicators on some key ingredients to ensure a quality education for all. First, the availability of schools where children can learn in safety. Second, the availability of scholarships for talented students. Third – and very importantly – the availability of trained teachers.
Let’s begin with Target 4.a on the School Environment: build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.
Indicator 4.a.1 examines the proportion of schools with access to: (a) electricity; (b) the Internet; (c) computers; (d) adapted infrastructure and materials for students with disabilities; (e) basic drinking water; (f) single-sex basic sanitation facilities; and (g) basic handwashing facilities (in line with SDG 6 on water, sanitation and hygiene).
This indicator assesses some of the most basic services and facilities that need to be in place for schools to be child-friendly, inclusive, nurturing and safe – schools where children have a good chance of learning what they need to know. As noted in my blog on Indicator 4.4.1 on skills for a digital world, our growing reliance on digital technologies carries a risk: those who lack access to such technologies and the skills to navigate them are in danger of being sidelined. The same is true for schools that lack such technologies – they will struggle to compete with those that do, only adding to the digital divide.
This indicator also has close links to Indicator 4.5.1, which stresses the need for disaggregated data on disability – in addition to other personal and household characteristics – as a way to ensure that progress on education is equitable and inclusive.
Next we examine Target 4.b on Scholarships: By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries.
We focus on Indicator 4.b.1, which reflects the volume of official development assistance flows for scholarships by sector and type of study. At first glance, a focus on scholarships for higher education overseas may seem a little elitist. Surely the emphasis should be on ensuring every child has a good basic education in their own country? In our view, this is not an ‘either/or’ scenario. The ultimate goal is lifelong learning, including robust early childhood development and pre-schooling, primary and secondary education and higher education – whether that higher education is in a student’s home country or elsewhere. The aim here is to ensure that talented students, particularly those from disadvantaged communities and groups, have an equitable chance of a higher education.
As discussed in the blog on Indicator 4.3.1 on quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, far too many young people worldwide are ‘NEETs’: not in education, employment or training. Scholarships that help young people reach their full potential can be truly transformative, not only for the young people themselves but for their societies.
Indicator 4.c.1 focuses on the proportion of teachers in: (a) pre-primary education; (b) primary education; (c) lower secondary education; and (d) upper secondary education who have received at least the minimum organized teacher training (e.g. pedagogical training) pre-service or in-service required for teaching at the relevant level in a given country, by sex.
This is an indicator that should be near the top of the urgent ‘to do’ list for the achievement of SDG 4.
Definition: the percentage of teachers by level of education taught (pre-primary, primary, lower secondary and upper secondary education) who have received at least the minimum organized pedagogical teacher training pre-service and in-service required for teaching at the relevant level in a given country. Ideally, the indicator should be calculated separately for public and private institutions.
There can be no better place to end this series on the SDG 4 indicators. Because, after all, education systems are only as good as the teachers who deliver education. Ultimately, education is about teachers engaging with and empowering their students.
If the world keeps its promises on education, the teacher in 2030 will be well-trained and working in a school that is equipped to provide a 21st century education of high quality. If the world keeps its promises on education, each of their students will arrive at school ready to learn, with an equitable chance of learning regardless of their background, gender or disability. If the world keeps its promises on education, children will stay in school and complete their education, and both teachers and students will play a pivotal role in building more peaceful, productive and sustainable societies.
The UIS is keeping its promise to track progress, alongside national governments, UN partners and others. By harnessing the power of data, as shown in this blog series, we can track whether the world is keeping its education promises to children and young people.
Where and how to find SDG 4 data
This blog was the final in a series that included: