Global progress review on Education Sustainable Development Goal (SDG4)

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H M Queen Mathilde at GEM Conference ©UNESCO

From 3 to 5 December, some 350 ministers, UN and EU officials, representatives of development agencies and other partners from all over the world took part in the first Global Education Meeting since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Agenda in 2015.

This three-day conference held in Brussels focused on the overall progress in meeting the educational objectives of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda (SDG4) and identified the priority areas urgently requiring political guidance and intervention to still achieve the global Education 2030 Agenda and reduce inequalities within and among countries through education. In doing so, the meeting underlines the holistic approach of the Agenda 2030 highlighting that achieving SDG 4 has an impact on SDG 10 also.

The event which was organised by UNESCO in consultation with the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee, and hosted by the government of Belgium, outlined today’s hard reality in figures: 262 million children, adolescents and youth are out-of-school in the world and 617 million children and adolescents — i.e. six out of ten — are unable to read a simple sentence or handle basic mathematic calculations. “The SDG’s concern everyone everywhere. 1 in 5 Europeans lack the necessary literacy and numeracy skills to participate fully in society, in other words, Europe is equally on the agenda.” said Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands.

"The sustainable development goals are all interconnected, progress in one means progress in the others. [ ...] We all know that education is the basis for development and must therefore educate young people, the citizens of tomorrow to become active stakeholders in the future of our planet," underlined H M Queen Mathilde.

"Education is the main infrastructure for sustainable goals. [ ...] We must identify the bottlenecks we have and share our best practices for the next 12 years ahead. [ ...] Teachers matter and are the main actors in making our societies stronger and safer," stressed Stefania Giannini UNESCO’s Assistant Director-General for Education.

GEM Conference at Egmont Palace © ©UNESCO

Ambassador Inga Rhonda King, President of UN ECOSOC, also highlighted that despite access to quality education being divided, significant progress is still possible with “each schooling year bringing a 0.3% increase in global GDP growth which could then lead to a 12% cut in global poverty. With children and young people making up 50% of the world’s population, education must be the foundation for achieving our dreams and chasing our common future and shared goals.”

And with the UN just announcing 24 January as an official International Day of Education for future years, education remains a key SDG pillar if all the objectives are to be met by 2030.

For more information on the meeting, Brussels Declaration, videos and photos: click here.