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09 Apr 2015

Where do the Proposed Education Targets Fall Short? The View of the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2015 By NORRAG


GMR2015Below we highlight some of the key issues related to education post-2015 raised in the EFA Global Monitoring Report 2015 that was published today.

Overview of the proposed education targets

  • The proposed education SDG (Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all) and targets are ‘considerably broader than the corresponding Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) with their narrow focus on primary education completion and gender parity. The SDG targets more closely reflect the holistic vision of the Education for All (EFA) movement, which recognized that all levels of education were interrelated’.
  • The proposed SDG targets are more oriented to outcomes. Moreover, they ambitiously shift the emphasis to higher levels of education, referring to universal secondary completion and equal access to tertiary education. They also aim at improvement in skills needed for decent jobs, including through entrepreneurship, and acquiring knowledge of sustainable development though education that prioritizes global citizenship, human rights, peace, cultural diversity and gender equality’.

Where do the proposed education targets fall short?

  • ‘Targets need to be specific and clear. Several of the proposed SDG education targets lack specificity and clarity in the concepts employed and outcomes expected’.
  • ‘Some targets are not measurable. If targets cannot be adequately measured now or in the foreseeable future, accountability is threatened’.
    • ‘Some targets refer to outcomes for which data are currently unavailable’.For example, the upgrading of education facilities to be ‘effective learning environments’ (proposed SDG education target 4a), while laudable, would be a major challenge for measurement’.
  • ‘The importance of realistic and relevant targets. Targets that have little chance of being met in a 15 year time-frame are unlikely to receive political commitment, support and cooperation from governments, donors, non-government organizations and local communities. The more ambitious the proposed target, the more unlikely it is to be met. For example, ensuring universal upper secondary education in the next 15 years is beyond the reach of most countries. At current rates of progress, even universal lower secondary completion is not projected to be reached in low and middle income countries until the latter half of the 21st century’.
  • ‘Equity issues are not clearly articulated. The essence of the goal is the achievement of inclusive and equitable education of good quality. But the ambiguous language of some targets could lead to marginalized groups being left behind. The lack of reference to free and compulsory basic education – pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education – has worrying implications’.

Finance necessary to achieve SDG education goals

The EFA Global Monitoring Report does not provide cost estimates for the entire SDG education agenda, but it does for a part of it:

  • To achieve only part of the post-2015 education agenda – achieving universal pre-primary, primary and lower secondary education completion – the total annual external financing gap (the difference between the estimated cost of achieving basic education and the estimated available domestic resources) is projected to average $US22 billion annually between 2015 and 2030.
  • Almost half of this, or US$10.6 billion pertains to low income countries: this is 4.5 times the total aid to pre-primary, primary and general secondary education in low income countries in 2012.
  • However, total aid to education is predicted to level off in coming years, stagnating between 2014 and 2017 in low income countries at about US$3.7 billion per annum.
  • ‘Clearly things must change drastically if there is to be any hope of carrying out the new agenda’, says the EFA report.

Next month, in Incheon, Republic of Korea, the international community will reconvene 15 years after the Dakar World Education Forum. They will issue a statement on post-2015 education priorities, together with a framework for action, which is intended to contribute to the final formulation of the SDG education goal and targets.

In September 2015 the international community will adopt a new development agenda, including an education goal and targets, during the United Nations General Assembly.

>> Read the full EFA Global Monitoring Report 2015.

Quotation marks above denote text taken verbatim from the report.

 >>See all NORRAG blogs on Sustainable Development Goals


NORRAG (Network for International Policies and Cooperation in Education and Training) is an internationally recognised, multi-stakeholder network which has been seeking to inform, challenge and influence international education and training policies and cooperation for almost 30 years. NORRAG has more than 4,200 registered members worldwide and is free to join. Not a member? Join free here.

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