Wednesday, February 10, 2016

UN Sustainable Development Goals for Education

Greetings from the Australian National University in Canberra, where a panel of experts is discussing "What will the SDGs mean for Asia?". The "SDGs" are the 17  Sustainable Development Goals which were, adopted by the UN last year to "... end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all ...". The SDGs have been criticized for being more complex and vague than the previous development goals. One question I did not get to ask the panel was about addressing displaced people. Now more than 60 million, if a country, refugees and displaced people would be about the world's twentieth largest country. Refugees, and their children, in particular miss out on education.

Of particular interest to me is Goal 4 "Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all". This applies to both school and adult higher education.

The goals are intended to be universally applied, not just in developing countries. It happens today the Closing the Gap Prime Minister's Report 2016 on Indigenous Australians was released. Chapter Two of the report is on Education . There are three measures reported on: school attendance, Literacy and numeracy and Year 12 attainment. It should be noted that the Australian targets only cover school eduction, not vocational or university attendance. Even on the limited measures used, Austrlaia is failing to close the "gap" between
Indigenous and other Australians. School attendance was 9% lower for indigenous, than non-indigenous students in 2015be met. There is progress on literacy, numeracy and year 12 attainment, however, here the target is to only halve the gap by 2018 (and 2020 for Year 12 attainment), not eliminate it. Even this seems unlikely to be achieved for indigenous students in  remote areas. A fundamental flaw in the strategy is the emphasis on sending students away to boarding schools, rather than bringing the education to the students in their community.

"Goal 4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

4.1 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes
4.2 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education
4.3 By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university
4.4 By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship
4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and 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
4.6 By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy
4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development
4.a Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all
4.b 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
4.c By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States"

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