top of page

| Goal 4: Ensure inclusive, equitable and quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

Education allows for upward socio-economic mobility and is the key to escaping poverty. During the last decade, great strides have been made in expanding access to education and enrollment rates at all levels, especially for girls. However, an estimated 260 million children were still out of school in 2018; about a fifth of the world's population in this age group. In addition, more than half of all children and teenagers worldwide are not meeting minimum standards for proficiency in reading and math.

In 2020, with the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world, most countries announced the temporary closing of schools, affecting more than 91% of students worldwide. In April 2020, nearly 1.6 billion children and young people were out of school. Likewise, around 369 million children who depend on school canteens have had to look for other sources of daily food.

Never before have so many children been out of school at the same time, disrupting their learning and drastically changing their lives, especially those of the most vulnerable children.​​ and marginalized. The global pandemic has serious consequences that could undermine hard-won gains in improving education around the world.


Response to COVID-19  


In an effort to foster international collaboration and ensure that education never stops, UNESCO is developing a response with a range of initiatives, including global monitoring of school closures at national and local levels.

With the aim of protecting the well-being of children and ensuring that they have access to lifelong learning, UNESCO, in March 2020, launched the Global Coalition for Education COVID-19 , a multisectoral alliance between the United Nations system, organizations from civil society, the media and IT partners to design and implement innovative solutions. Together, they help countries address content and connectivity gaps and facilitate inclusive learning opportunities for children and youth during this period of sudden and unprecedented educational disruption.

In particular, the Global Coalition for Education aims to:

  • Help countries mobilize resources and implement innovative and context-appropriate solutions to provide distance education, taking advantage of high, low-tech or no-tech approaches.

  • Seek equitable solutions and universal access.

  • Ensure coordinated responses and avoid overlapping efforts.

  • Make it easier for students to return to schools upon reopening to avoid a significant increase in dropout rates.

UNICEF also increased its work in 145 low- and middle-income countries to support governments and education partners in developing system-wide and rapid response plans, including alternative learning and mental health support programs.


| Notable Data  

  • Primary school enrollment in developing countries has reached 91%, but 57 million school-age children are still out of school.

  • More than half of the children who are not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa.

  • It is estimated that 50% of children who do not attend primary school live in conflict-affected areas.

  • 617 million young people in the world lack basic numeracy skills and a minimum level of literacy.

| Goal 4

4.1  By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete primary and secondary education, which must be free, equitable and of quality, and produce relevant and effective learning outcomes.


4.2  By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood care and development services and early childhood education so they are ready for elementary school.

4.3  By 2030, ensure equal access for all men and women to quality technical, vocational and higher education, including university education

4.4  By 2030, significantly increase the number of young people and adults with the necessary skills, mainly technical and professional, to have access to jobs, decent work and entrepreneurship

4.5  By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for vulnerable people, including people with disabilities, indigenous peoples and vulnerable children

4.6  By 2030, ensure that all youth and a significant proportion of adults, both men and women, are literate and have basic math.

4.7  By 2030, ensure that all students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to promote sustainable development, including through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promoting a culture of peace and non violence, world citizenship and the appreciation of cultural diversity and the contribution of culture to sustainable development

4th  Build and adapt educational facilities that take into account the needs of children and people with disabilities and gender differences, and that provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all

4.b  By 2020, significantly increase globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing states and African countries, so that their students can enroll in higher education programs, including vocational and technical training programs, scientific, engineering and information and communication technology programs in developed and other developing countries

4.c  By 2030, significantly increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially LDCs and Small Island Developing States

bottom of page