Why education is so important to the Sustainable Development Goals

Why education is so important to the Sustainable Development Goals

     The Pope addressing the UN General Assembly on September 25th (photo courtesy of The Guardian)


The Pope addressing the UN General Assembly on September 25th (photo courtesy of The Guardian)

15 years ago the UN launched the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The eight goals set out global targets that would stretch and challenge development work in a joint effort to reduce extreme poverty.

Today many of those goals have been met, and some even superseded. More women survive childbirth. More communities have access to drinkable water. And more children are receiving a primary education.

There’s no doubt about it. The world has come a long way and we’re seeing some exciting progress towards ending extreme poverty.

Over the next few days the UN are meeting to discuss the next 15 years of goals – the Sustainable Development Goals.

The 17 goals set out global actions for people and the planet, from gender equality to sustainable cities to peace and justice.

And one of the goals is quality education.

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning

Each goal cannot be achieved without the other, and many overlap in their implementation and outcomes. Quality education is one them, because without education our societies will be less peaceful, and without gender equality we’ll never reach quality education.

It’s great news that quality education is being given this weight because although enrollment in school has reached an incredible 91 percent, there are still 57 million children out of school. More than half of those children live in sub-Saharan Africa. And as we mentioned in our recent article about the links between education and peace, around 50 percent of out-school-children live in areas affected by conflict.

Goal 4 has two key components; access to quality education.

We talk a lot about quality education here at Library For All, and it’s the whole reason we exist – we recognized the need for access to quality education. The UN have said that universal literacy is a key component for reaching “the future we want.” Literacy is absolutely essential to inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all.

“Promoting literacy must stand at the heart of this new agenda,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). “By empowering individual women and men, literacy helps to advance sustainable development across the board – from better healthcare and food security to eradicating poverty and promoting decent work.”

Shockingly, 250 million primary aged children do not have basic literacy skills, despite being in school. And even worse, 750 million adults in our world are illiterate. It’s an issue UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognizes as a priority.

“All of these people, whatever their age, deserve the chance to learn to read. When we give them that opportunity, we will create more productive, stable and secure societies for all,” said the Secretary-General.

We’re excited to be a part of the next 15 years and making quality education even more accessible as technology improves and data networks expand. It’s the right time and we’re ready!