SDG 4
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Since 2000, there has been enormous progress in achieving the target of universal primary education. The total enrolment rate in developing regions reached 91 percent in 2015, and the worldwide number of children out of school has dropped by almost half. There has also been a dramatic increase in literacy rates, and many more girls are in school than ever before. These are all remarkable successes.

Progress has also been tough in some developing regions due to high levels of poverty, armed conflicts and other emergencies. In Western Asia and North Africa, ongoing armed conflict has seen an increase in the number of children out of school. This is a worrying trend. While Sub-Saharan Africa made the greatest progress in primary school enrolment among all developing regions – from 52 percent in 1990, up to 78 percent in 2012 – large disparities still remain. Children from the poorest households are up to four times more likely to be out of school than those of the richest households. Disparities between rural and urban areas also remain high.

Achieving inclusive and quality education for all reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. This goal ensures that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. It also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education.

Goals in action


UNDP in Lao PDR

Community radio makes waves

UNDP works with the Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism to support community radio stations that provide educational programming as well as vital information on health and sanitation. MORE >

UNDP in Afghanistan

All access Afghanistan: Female nurses for underserved rural communities

In a student hostel in Jalalabad, Afghanistan something extraordinary is taking place. A young woman sits on her hostel bed, bent over a textbook. This is Abida, and she is training to be a nurse in a country where most women haven’t finished primary school. MORE >

UNDP in Iraq

Yazidi women find economic independence in Iraqi Kurdistan

The Dost Bakery is a small cake business that opened in Iraqi Kurdistan in the autumn of 2015. Dost means “friend” in Kurdish, as the bakery is run by 10 friends. All of them are women who were displaced by ISIS... MORE >

UNDP in Ghana and Indonesia

Removing the obstacles for women farmers

Through the Green Commodities Programme, UNDP is bringing together government, big business and small-scale farmers across 10 countries to address sustainable agricultural practices. The programme helps improve access to resources and ensure equal opportunities for women. MORE >

UNDP in Azerbaijan

Learning to restore and protect Azerbaijan's farmlands

With EU funding and UNDP support, the Clima East Pilot Project in Azerbaijan is working to teach and establish sustainable pasture management practices, improve the fertility of pastures and forests and prevent soil erosion and landslides. MORE >

UNDP in Indonesia

Cultivating change in Papua

The scent of the Celebes pepper hits you before you even reach Ogenetan in the heart of Papua’s Boven Digoel district. Called sereh merah, the plant is used by communities across Papua to drive away evil spirits. MORE >

UNDP in Honduras

Honduran women light the way

They don’t know how to read or write. Yet Iris Marlene Espinal, Carmen Lourdes Zambrano Cruz, Alnora Casy Estrada and Ingrid Miranda Martinez are engineering an energy secure future. MORE >