Thematic Action Tracks

Thematic Action Tracks are key levers to transform education by focusing on specific areas that need attention. Action Tracks will seek to mobilize new commitments, by highlighting policy interventions that work, and leveraging existing initiatives and partnerships, including those that emerged in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Why are Thematic Action Tracks important now?

The Thematic Action Tracks are guided by the 2030 Agenda and its education-related goals and targets, specifically SDG 4: ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. The COVID-19 crisis heightened the urgency to tackle the educational inequalities and learning crisis, threatening to reverse progress already made towards the SDGs. At the same time, it is an opportunity to rethink and reimagine the purpose, content and delivery modes of education—in other words, to transform education toward peaceful, inclusive and sustainable futures of humanity and the planet.

Who will be engaged?

The Action Tracks will ensure consistent engagement with member states and will be open to all stakeholders, including donors, policymakers, civil society groups, young people, teachers’ networks, education advocates, academia, the private sector and philanthropies.

Action Track 1: Inclusive, equitable, safe and healthy schools

Education is in crisis. High rates of poverty, exclusion and gender inequality continue to hold millions back from learning. Moreover, COVID-19 further exposed the inequities in education access and quality, and violence, armed conflict, disasters and reversal of women’s rights have increased insecurity.

Inclusive, transformative education must ensure that all learners have unhindered access to and participation in education, that they are safe and healthy, free from violence and discrimination, and are supported with comprehensive care services within school settings. Transforming education requires a significant increase in investment in quality education, a strong foundation in comprehensive early childhood development and education, and must be underpinned by strong political commitment, sound planning, and a robust evidence base.


Action Track 2: Learning and skills for life, work and sustainable development

There is a crisis in foundational learning, of literacy and numeracy skills among young learners. In 2020 more than 770 million people still lacked basic literacy skills, two-thirds of whom were women. Children with disabilities are 42% less likely to have foundational reading and numeracy skills compared to their peers. The COVID-19 pandemic further magnified these disparities, especially among children in low- and middle-income countries.

Transforming education means empowering learners with knowledge, skills, values and attitudes to be resilient, adaptable and prepared for the uncertain future while contributing to human and planetary well-being and sustainable development. To do so, there must be emphasis on foundational learning for basic literacy and numeracy; education for sustainable development, which encompasses environmental and climate change education; and skills for employment and entrepreneurship.


Action Track 3: Teachers, teaching and the teaching profession

Teachers are essential for achieving learning outcomes, and for achieving SDG 4 and the transformation of education. But teachers and education personnel are confronted by four major challenges: teacher shortages; lack of professional development opportunities; low status and working conditions; and lack of capacity to develop teacher leadership, autonomy and innovation.

Accelerating progress toward SDG 4 and transforming education require that there is an adequate number of teachers to meet learners’ needs, and all education personnel are trained, motivated, and supported. This can only be possible when education is adequately funded, and policies recognize and support the teaching profession, to improve their status and working conditions.


Action Track 4: Digital learning and transformation

The COVID-19 crisis drove unprecedented innovations in remote learning through harnessing digital technologies. At the same time, digital divides excluded many from learning, with more than two-thirds of school-age learners (1.3 billion children) without internet access at home. These inequities in access meant some groups, such as young women and girls, were left out of learning opportunities.

Digital transformation requires harnessing technology as part of larger systemic efforts to transform education, making it more inclusive, equitable, effective, relevant, and sustainable. Investments and action in digital learning should be guided by the three core principles outlined in the 2021 Rewired Global Declaration on Connectivity in Education:

  1. Center the most marginalized;
  2. Free, high-quality digital education content;
  3. Pedagogical innovation and change.


Action Track 5: Financing of education

While global education spending has grown overall, it has been thwarted by high population growth, the surmounting costs of managing education during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the diversion of aid to other emergencies, leaving a massive global education financial gap.

In this context, the first step toward transformation is to urge funders to redirect resources back to education to close the funding gap. Following that, countries must have significantly increased and sustainable financing for achieving SDG 4 and that these resources must be equitably and effectively allocated and monitored. Addressing the gaps in education financing requires policy actions in three key areas: (1) mobilizing more resources, especially domestic, (2) increasing efficiency and equity of allocations and expenditures, and (3) improving education financing data. Finally, determining which areas needs to be financed, and how, will be informed by recommendations from each of the other four tracks.