Students at the “25 de Junho” School located in Beira, Mozambique.
Students at the “25 de Junho” School, located in Beira, Mozambique. UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe

We must do far more to advance Sustainable Development Goal 4, to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Education is a human right

The right to education is enshrined in article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The declaration calls for free and compulsory elementary education. The Convention on the Rights of the Child, adopted in 1989, goes further to stipulate that countries shall make higher education accessible to all.

Education is key to sustainable development

When it adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in September 2015, the international community recognized that education is essential for the success of all 17 of its goals. Sustainable Development Goal 4, in particular, aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030.

Challenges to achieving universal education

Education offers children a ladder out of poverty and a path to a promising future. But about 265 million children and adolescents around the world do not have the opportunity to enter or complete school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school and some four million children and youth refugees are out of school. Their right to education is being violated and it is unacceptable.

Without inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong opportunities for all, countries will not succeed in achieving gender equality and breaking the cycle of poverty that is leaving millions of children, youth and adults behind.

 

Learning for people, planet, prosperity, and peace

The 2020 theme ‘Learning for people, planet, prosperity and peace,’ highlights the integrated nature of education, its humanistic aims, as well as its centrality to our collective development ambitions. It also gives stakeholders and partners flexibility to tailor the celebration for diverse audiences, a variety of contexts and for priority themes.

The 2020 celebration will position education and the learning it enables as humanity’s greatest renewable resource and reaffirm the role of education as a fundamental right, a public good and an enabler of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It will frame ‘inclusive and equitable quality education and lifelong learning for all’ as a goal in and of itself, as well as a necessary means to accelerate progress to meet the targets of all 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

Read more about this year's theme.

 

 

School children in a classroom in Gao, Mali.
  • Enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 per cent but 57 million primary age children remain out of school.
  • More than half of children that have not enrolled in school live in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • An estimated 50 per cent of out-of-school children of primary school age live in conflict-affected areas.

International days are occasions to educate the public on issues of concern, to mobilize political will and resources to address global problems, and to celebrate and reinforce achievements of humanity. The existence of international days predates the establishment of the United Nations, but the UN has embraced them as a powerful advocacy tool. We also mark other UN observances.