Good education breeds successful careers, a better lifestyle, good health and assurance of family well-being. No other primary right has surpassed education in terms of awareness and implementation. According to Eurostat data, the average salary of those with the highest education level after one year of higher education in the EU is 50% for those with high and medium education and a proud 70% for those with the highest and lowest education levels. Those who complete an apprenticeship earn less, while those who graduate at the age of 24 earn more than the average of those who are educated at level C (GCSE standard).
While the world is taking giant leaps in literacy progress, there are still countries that chide the primary right under the domination of religion, economic status and obstinate culture. Many students face obstacles in pursuing comprehensive education. Unlike in rich countries, children and young citizens in developing countries face many obstacles to obtaining a quality education. Some live in remote areas without internet access nor reliable power supply, which makes access to schools and to online education impossible. For girls, children from ethnic minorities, children with disabilities and children living in conflict zones, these barriers are even greater. Despite all the progress to date, major efforts are still needed to achieve universal quality education.
According to Humanium, a Geneva-based international child sponsorship NGO dedicated to stopping violations of children’s rights throughout the world, more than 7.2 million primary school-age children are out of school, and 75.9 million adults are illiterate and lack the awareness needed to improve their living conditions for their children. More than 75 million children and adolescents between 3 and 18 years of age in 35 countries in crisis are in urgent need of education support, with young girls in conflict zones 90% more likely not to attend secondary school. A total of 7.5 million children have had their education interrupted or withdrawn as a result of conflicts and crises, including natural disasters that destroyed their school environment.
In light of the magnitude of inequality in the education system across the world, the United Nations constituted the 4th Sustainable Developmental Goal – Quality Education. The aim is to “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”. The goal of Quality Education is fulfilled only when high-quality education including training, vocational courses are affordable to every child irrespective of their gender, race, class and physical challenges. The aim is to eliminate inequalities between people and learning opportunities. However, the pool of education available for children in the world is still limited. The uneven distribution of resources and income across countries contributes to that. Unfortunately, many families do not have the resources to send their kids to an institution of higher learning or training as engineers, accountants or doctors.
Since the target came into existence in 2015, SDG# 4 has helped all the members states in shifting the focus from sheer education provision to ensuring equitable and universal solutions for empowering young people to become productive citizens of the society. Education doesn’t just stop at the pre-primary and primary levels: the goal is to continue the access to learning opportunities for individuals throughout their lives, eliminating any discrimination and access issues. Regardless of the efforts, more than half of the world’s children and adolescent population are still not reaching the minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics which are foundational for employment. We need innovative and location-appropriate solutions leveraging hi-tech, low-tech and even no-tech study systems. Also, there is an urgent need for more and better research on how to improve primary education literacy and numeracy outcomes and increase the number of students completing their studies. All stakeholders – governments, teachers, parents, students, and the education sector – must work together, and policy implementation and performance must be evaluated and monitored.
“Children need to go to school, and equal treatment is the rule.“
– From A Smart Way to Start Doing Good