SDG 4: Quality Education

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The SDGs form a part of the United Nations (UN) “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, which was unanimously adopted in 2015 by all UN Member States as a “plan of action for people, planet and prosperity”. On January 1 2016, an ambitious plan was launched which comprised of seventeen goals, designed to be a “shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future”. One of the goals included in the same was to ‘ensure quality education for all’, This article is a summarization of the points put across in the research paper titled “Understanding Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on “quality education” from micro, meso and macro perspectives” by Ellen Boeren (2019)

The key element of SDG 4 is quality and lifelong learning for all. Education aid largely in the development of a coherent and responsible society. Quality education plays a key role in improving skills related to sustainability and care for our planet. Education also helps to promote gender equality by encouraging more women to enter the workforce. Education help develop better skills and enable individuals to secure better paid jobs, enjoy better health, be more involved in their communities, and practise more active citizenship.

Individuals and their families comprise the micro level. The meso level includes schools, education, and training initiatives. The macro level comprises of the government. SDG 4 comprises of ten targets. These levels serve to improve our understanding of the ten SDG targets on quality education. They help to explore the problems faced in improving educational quality around the world and suggests the need for institutions at different levels to cooperate and support each other. They also help increase our knowledge of appropriate actions that might help in achieving the targets.

The micro level

The micro level includes parents, children, young adults, and adult learners because they are required to obtain relevant skills to work within the international economy as well as form an integral part of various statistical surveys conducted. Research has shown that vast differences exist in the level of education obtained depending on the families’ socio-economic and socio-demographic capabilities. Children with highly educated parents tend to be more educated and obtain higher education and their parents are likely to have financial resources to send them to good schools. They are also likely to be employed in high-paying jobs in comparison to their less-educated peers. These parents also find it important to invest in their child’s education and encourage them to perform in school as well as in other academic activities. Hence, micro-level commonly refers to socio-demographic and socio-economic factors, people’s attitudes, confidence, interests, and motivation to learn.

The meso level

The availability of high-quality educational institutions plays a vital role in delivering quality education as learning takes place in a variety of institutions such as schools, colleges, universities, etc. These institutions must ensure that high-quality teachers, educators, managers, and support staff are employed for the growth and development of every student, and they must also be located close to learners for ease of access and transportation. Three elements characterise the meso level:

(1) the structure of the educational offers available in the institution;

(2) the ways in which learning practices are organised; and

(3) the qualification levels of staff members.

The macro level

Educational institutions must follow a wide range of rules and regulations. Countries have their own education policies which educational institutions are required to follow. For example, these institutions are required to fulfil certain criteria to obtain officially recognised qualifications or funding. Research has also shown that countries with higher levels of democracy, political trust and social justice tend to have stronger levels of education participation among adults. In sum, macro-level factors relate to legal and financial rules and regulations as well as the socio-political ideologies of the country or region.

Recommendations for policy, practice and research

(a) Raise awareness of benefits of learning among citizens and policymakers

The benefits of quality education can be economic as well as non-economic. Policymakers in developing countries may not consider investing in education as the most important factor as they might be finding it difficult to make available adequate food and water to their citizens. Many of the other SDGs may also be achieved by laying emphasis on quality education. Poverty and literacy problems are often transferred between generations. Access to quality education may help in reducing these social inequalities.

(b) Bring education and training opportunities to the people

Only 46 per cent of teenagers in rural sub-Saharan Africa have completed primary school, as reported in the 2017/18 Global Monitoring Report on Education (UNESCO 2017). This problem is quite common in low-income and lower-middle-income countries. This location effect is also prevalent in other regions. Urban areas have a major share of learning institutes. If it is difficult for people to access various training initiatives, one of the possible solutions might be to bring education to the people. Examples include mobile schools or distance learning opportunities if appropriate internet facilities are available.

(c) Provide high‑quality teacher training across the world

The meso level is often not given adequate importance. Teachers play an important role in the education realm and they facilitate learning as well as put education policies into practice. Teachers act as an important link between society and individual agents. The SDGs promote inclusive and accessible education for all, but this might be difficult to attain if teachers are unaware of how to achieve this though their own work.


Education helps build qualified workforce in an economy who are responsible for bringing about economic growth and development. There is a correlation between education participation rates and government investment in industries, innovation and infrastructures. UNESCO’s Literacy Assessment and Monitoring Programme (LAMP) survey measures literacy skills in a limited number of developing countries (UNESCO 2017). The available evidence suggests that the universal implementation of primary education has not yet been achieved. For example, the goals set by UNESCO’s Education for All (EFA) strategy for the period 2000–2015 (WEF 2000) were not achieved in any of the sub-Saharan countries. This is alarming indeed and suggests the need for more detailed investigations into the exact reasons why these countries failed to reach the goals.


Boeren, E. (2019). Understanding Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 on “quality education” from micro, meso and macro perspectives.[gallery13821]/0

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed above are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of Center for Research and Implementation of Sustainable Practices or the CRISP Global.