Rise Up

This Is What It Would Take to Give Everyone Around the World an Education

The Sustainable Development Goals have specific targets to be achieved over the next 15 years. Today, we take a look at Goal #4: Quality Education.
September 15, 2017, 5:30pm
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The UN's Sustainable Development Goals are 17 encompassing objectives meant to address the world's most pressing health, educational, social and economic issues by 2030. This month, the UN General Assembly, as well as many of the governing bodies behind the UN's SDGs, will be convening and we'll be breaking down a goal a day.

SDG #4: Quality Education

Strong generations are built on strong, attainable education, and this sustainable development goal is working to make sure that education is a reality, at all levels, and for all young people. We've come a long way.

Enrollment in primary schools has exceeded 90 percent in the developing world, and the gender gap in primary education continues to decrease. Yet, more than 57 million children aren't making it to classrooms across the globe, and opportunities for secondary education remain difficult to obtain in many remote and developing rural regions, and in conflict zones. With this goal, the U.N. hopes to make secondary education an opportunity for every young person, insure equality in education access and quality between genders, and increase opportunities for postsecondary and vocational training.


The Effect

Some of the other goals are about ending the cycle of poverty, increasing health care accessibility, and creating food stability. Those are all well and good, but they're all far more attainable goals with an educated global population on their side. And while the overwhelming majority of young people in the US are lucky to have access to both primary and secondary education, inequality in access and education quality remain hurdles close to home.

The Education Trust reports that the districts with the most minority students nationwide receive 15 percent less funding per student than the whitest districts, and minority students are more likely to be taught by an inexperienced teacher than a teacher with extensive experience in 33 states.

We have a long way to go before quality education is fair, and equally accessible, both at home and abroad. Let's get started.

The "You" Factor

We all deserve an education. Here are the changemakers working to make that goal a reality.


The Association for Childhood Education International promotes research and program development around education through collaborations between academics, teachers, and policymakers across the globe. The organization publishes regular material on global trends and developments in education, and fosters conversations between educators and policymakers worldwide.

The Malala Fund -- named for and founded by activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai -- focuses on insuring primary and secondary education for all girls, with a focus on conflict zones and developing regions. The organization also advocates for gender equality in global education conversations.


At Home

Things are getting pretty wild on the education home front in the US-of-A. We've seen a policy shift away from traditional public schools and pretty significant threats to affordable college initiatives including Pell grants and work study. Luckily, states including Oregon, New York, and Tennessee are working to shift the narrative with free two and four-year college programs, and educators and politicians are speaking out against shifting public school policies.

You can speak out, too. Let your representatives know that equal, accessible education is a priority at all levels.

You can also check out organizations like the National Coalition on School Diversity and First Book, who are fighting for quality, equal education for all U.S. students.

To learn more about the SDGs, head to the Goalkeepers site created by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which highlights an event in New York City on September 19 and 20 that convenes activists, world leaders, and the public to share their successes and challenges in advancing the SDG agenda. And September 25 is a global day of action on the SDGs -- find an event or opportunity near you.