Education and training policies in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development


In September 2015, the United Nations adopted 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be achieved by 2030. There are some 13 education targets across 4 SDGs: Education has a stand-alone SDG (SDG#4) with 7 targets (and 3 means of implementation targets), in addition to 3 other education targets under the SDGs for health (SDG#3), work (SDG#8), and climate change (SDG#13). The ambition is to achieve ‘inclusive and equitable quality education at all levels – early childhood, primary, secondary, tertiary, technical and vocational training’. In other words, almost the whole spectrum of education and training falls under this remit.

Since 2012, NORRAG has kept a critical eye on the role of education and work skills in the various strands of the post-2015 debates as they unfolded: the UN-thematic and country consultations, the High Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the Intergovernmental Open Working Group on the SDGs, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network, the World Education Forum 2015 and the Incheon Declaration, the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, the Third International Conference on Financing Development, and the myriad reports and goal suggestions from civil society and researchers, and, of course, what was going on in the global South.

With the goal and target agreement for 2030, the critical eye of NORRAG now turns to the question of ‘What next?’ How will these new targets be achieved? How will they be measured, and which indicators will be used? How will they be financed? Since the SDGs are aspirational global goals, the key issue now is if and how they will be translated into national policies around the globe over the coming years. These goals are intended to be universal, but what universality means has been an ongoing issue since 2012, and is still debated today. 

Key Issues:

  • The global governance, architecture and management approach of the SDGs in relation to education and work skills (see also our theme Global Governance of Education and Training);
  • The role of DAC and emerging “donors”, private foundations, business and innovative financing in changing the landscape of development assistance;
  • The way that global aspirations of the SDGs will be translated and implemented, at national level and regional level, and reported at the global level;
  • The degree to which the discourse of the SDGs remains aimed at the global South, or the extent to which it truly becomes a universal agenda;
  • The way that technical and vocational skills policy, practice and cooperation are influenced – or not – by the SDGs (see also our theme TVET/TVSD).