The New Consensus for Development has fully endorsed the SDG 4 on education which aims to "ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all", that is, to ensure everyone has the knowledge, skills and values they need to engage actively and responsibly in society.

The 2030 Agenda reflects the role of education and training in providing the essential knowledge and skills to enable all further learning, and the vital role it plays in achieving other SDGs, such as those related to health, gender equality, poverty reduction, growth and employment, sustainable consumption and production, and climate change.

Quality Education

Major global challenges for education and training include: (Figures taken from the EFA Global Monitoring Report, UNESCO 2015)

  • Over 200 million children of pre-primary, primary and secondary school age are not in school (disproportionately the poor, girls and children with disabilities)
  • 75 million children need educational support in 35 countries in crisis
  • 250 million children currently leave school unable to read, write or do basic maths
  • A huge deficit of teachers - an estimated 25 million new teachers will be needed to provide all children with primary education by 2030
  • Over 240 million girls and boys experience violence in and around school every year (School-related gender-based violence is preventing the achievement of quality education for all - UNESCO 2015)
  • 774 million adults are illiterate (two-thirds of them are women)

Based on the Communication on Education and Training in the context of poverty reduction in developing countries (2002), the EC SWD More and Better Education in Developing Countries (2010), the Communication on Education in Emergencies and Protracted crises (2018), the Overall Objective of the EU in the Education sector is to reinforce Literacy, Numeracy, Skills and Qualifications of populations in partner countries, knowing that education is also essential for the achievement of all the other SDGs: those linked to our Planet (12,13,14,15), our Prosperity (1,2,8,9,10,12), People (3,5,6,7,10), Peace (16) and Places (10, 11) (see the 2016 Global Education Monitoring Report).

In order to reach this desired impact, the long-term expected outcomes / Specific Objectives are:

  1. To improve completion of inclusive and equitable early childhood, primary and secondary education;
  2. To improve Learning Outcomes;
  3. To increase efficiency and effectiveness of the education system (including resilience to shocks).

EU Strategic Priorities

To leverage the positive impact of education and training in building resilient societies, the EU action is structured around the following four strategic priorities:

  • Addressing education and training in crisis situations: through integrated approaches and increased partnership to deliver safe quality education for vulnerable children and youth in crisis and conflict-affected areas;
  • Promoting skills and employability: high levels of knowledge, skills and competencies to empower people, especially the youth, women and vulnerable groups, to have a stake in their societies, a chance of a decent livelihood, to be active and responsible citizens
  • Addressing the teacher deficit and improving the quality of teaching and learning: education plays a key role in societal resilience to foster pluralism, coexistence and respect but also to prevent and counter violent extremism and radicalisation
  • Tackling inequalities, particularly gender inequality, and leaving no one behind: support to equitable quality education, particularly during early childhood and primary years, with special attention to girls and women, vulnerable groups and remote and conflict-affected areas.

In terms of global initiatives, the EU is engaged in:

  • the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the unique partnership that since 2002 brings together global stakeholders to support basic education in low income countries. On of the key priorities of the partnership is education in fragile and conflict-affected states, by contributing to building capacity and to capitalizing on the potential role of education in reducing conflict and building stability. The EU is the major contributor.
  • Education Cannot Wait (ECW), launched at the World Humanitarian Summit in 2016, the first global fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises. Chaired by UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown, ECW aims to address education needs of 75 million children affected by crises by 2030- One of the main priorities of ECW is to ensure a medium to long-term approach to addressing education needs in protracted crises.

Policy and Strategic Documents

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