It is not too late to reach the world’s education goal. At least, not yet. In 2015, United Nations Member States promised to reach Sustainable Development Goal 4 – a quality education for all – by 2030. We are now one-third of the way through the timeframe for its achievement, and it is still possible – just about – to meet the deadline. But without accurate, current and comparable data on education, and without a shift from ‘business as usual’ approaches to the provision and quality of education, the goal could soon be beyond our grasp.
Counting children out of school and children not learning
Today, around 258 million children are out of school, according to data from the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS). If we continue on our current trajectory, one in every six children aged 6 to 17 will still be out of school in 2030 and only six out of ten youth will complete secondary education.
Our data also show that being in school is not enough to guarantee a quality education. According to our estimates, 55% of children and adolescents of primary and lower secondary school age are not achieving minimum proficiency levels in reading and 60% are not reaching these levels in mathematics.
These global facts and figures are compelling enough to trigger urgent action. But there is so much more that we do not know, because we are still missing data that could prove crucial for the achievement of SDG 4. As the custodian of SDG 4 data, UIS continues to push for the disaggregated, deep-dive data that show us precisely what is happening and when as children make their way through their schooling, what works and – importantly – where education systems need to change track, target their resources and accelerate their efforts to deliver a quality education for all.
SDG 4 Data Digest: Tools help countries produce and use the indicators
The 2019 edition of the SDG 4 Data Digest reinforces the need for the robust data that are crucial to reach the global targets for education. It provides a panoramic view of the current development of SDG 4 global monitoring alongside proven methodologies for data collection and reporting at the international, regional and national levels. The new report, entitled How to Produce and Use the Global and Thematic Education Indicators, was launched today in Paris at an event during the UNESCO General Conference.
At the UIS, we are concerned that the collection, analysis and use of data are too often seen as ‘nice to have’, if and when resources allow. In reality, they help countries ensure that the money they spend on education has the best possible impact on individual and national well-being.