Why Education Is Important to U.N.’s Goals
Posted by Michele Bellso on October 07, 2016 in categoryStories from the FieldcategoryNewscategoryAdvocacy

Why Education Is Important to U.N.’s Goals

In September 2015, at a historic United Nations Summit, world leaders adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In January 2016, efforts to achieve those goals officially began. Over the next 15 years, countries will assemble efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities, tackle climate change, and ensure education so that no one is left behind. This is an unprecedented opportunity to bring the countries and citizens of the world together to embark on a new path to improve the lives of people everywhere by supporting these goals. ProLiteracy is specifically working to achieve Goal 4.

Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning

We believe this is the basis for all the other sustainable goals. Obtaining a quality education is the foundation for improving people’s lives and sustainable development. There has been major progress in increasing access to all levels of education and increasing enrollment rates in schools, particularly for women and girls. Basic literacy skills have also improved tremendously. Yet, bolder efforts are needed to make even greater strides for achieving universal education goals. For example:

  • Enrollment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 percent, but 57 million children remain out of school
  • More than half of the children not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa
  • An estimated 50 percent of primary-school-age children not in school live in conflict-affected areas
  • Worldwide, 103 million youth lack basic literacy skills, and more than 60 percent of them are women

Symposium for Lifelong Learning

On October 3, The Coalition of Lifelong Learning Organizations (COLLO), in collaboration with the International Council on Adult Education, sponsored a symposium for lifelong learning organizations in the U.S. and Canada on the topic of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. Peter Waite, senior vice president of ProLiteracy Worldwide, presented at the symposium.

Peter talked about the U.N.’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, and the role education plays in those goals, reinforcing the need to integrate education—particularly lifelong learning—into all the goals for them to be successful.

  • Many of our literacy programs, particularly internationally, cross over many of the goals in the context to teaching basic literacy skills.
  • The success of nearly every other goals is going to be based on success in education, particularly for those at the bottom of the educational pyramid.
  • Programs in the U.S. are heavily focused on economic benefits for participants, but many have multiple services associated with the other sustainable goals.
  • We should consider instituting an international “literacy impact statement,” which would assess the ability to achieve a goal if the participants are at very low literacy levels.
  • All of the goals need to be better integrated into the education goal.
  • The activities associated with the goals need to have clearer interrelationships and collaboration for success.
  • The media and other advocacy outlets need to see these goals as solutions to a worldwide crisis of sustainability, and the messaging needs to convey a sense of crisis and urgency.


If you missed the symposium you can view the recording here.


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