Goal 4: Quality education

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.

Facts and figures

91%

Enrollment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 percent.

57 million

Still, 57 million primary-aged children remain out of school, more than half of them in sub-Saharan Africa.

1 in 4

In developing countries, one in four girls is not in school.

50%

About half of all out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas.

103 million

103 million youth worldwide lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 percent of them are women.

6 of 10

Globally, 6 out of 10 children and adolescents are not achieving a minimum level of proficiency in reading and math.

  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes

  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education

  • By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university

  • 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

  • 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

  • By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy

  • 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

  • Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all

  • 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

  • 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
SDG 1SDG 2SDG 3SDG 4SDG 5SDG 6SDG 7SDG 8SDG 9SDG 10SDG 11SDG 12SDG 13SDG 14SDG 15SDG 16SDG 17
Goals in action
SDG 4 SDG 5 SDG 10 SDG 16

70 years of progress on human rights

All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. This simple yet radical idea is enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human…

more ›

SDG 3 SDG 4 SDG 5 SDG 10

Playing to win: Muzghan's story

Afghan volleyball champion Muzghan Sadaat encourages young women to fight for their dreams.

more ›

SDG 3 SDG 4 SDG 5

All access Afghanistan

Nurses are hard to find in rural Nuristan Province in eastern Afghanistan. But women like Abida Nowroz are set to change this.

more ›

SDG 1 SDG 3 SDG 4

Keeping children worm-free in Tanzania

Investing in preventive treatment helps tackle widespread tropical diseases in Africa.

more ›

SDG 1 SDG 3 SDG 4 SDG 9

Community radio makes waves

In Lao PDR, where most people live in remote, mountainous areas, radio remains the primary source of information for many and is now playing an even…

more ›

SDG 4 SDG 5 SDG 8 SDG 10

Yazidi women find economic independence

The Dost Bakery is a small cake business in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Dost means “friend” in Kurdish, and the bakery is run by 10 friends, all…

more ›

SDG 1 SDG 2 SDG 4 SDG 5 SDG 15

Removing the obstacles for women farmers

UNDP is bringing together government, big business and small-scale farmers to support sustainable agricultural practices.

more ›

SDG 1 SDG 4 SDG 12 SDG 15

Cultivating change in Papua

Farmers have discovered a new use for Sereh merah, a plant long used to drive away evil spirits.

more ›

SDG 2 SDG 4 SDG 11 SDG 13 SDG 15

Learning to restore and protect Azerbaijan's farmlands

In the rural villages of Azerbaijan, UNDP is working with farmers to establish sustainable land management practices, improve soil fertility, and…

more ›

UNDP Around the world