Off Track: Educators Assess Progress Towards SDG 4

published 15 July 2019 updated 17 August 2021

In 2015, Education International ensured that the new international agenda for a better world included a commitment to quality education and recognised the importance of teachers in making this a reality.

Four years later, teachers provide a highly concerning analysis of the progress made towards guaranteeing equitable and inclusive quality education for all and remedying the shortage of qualified teachers.

Privatisation of education is intensifying and funding for public education is being cut, excluding the vulnerable from accessing quality education. Teachers and education support personnel suffer poor employment and working conditions — precarious contracts, unsafe work environments, high workloads, low salaries — while their status continues to decline. The basic trade union and human rights of teachers are being violated, and teachers are inadequately involved in policy development. Discrimination against minorities has spread with the rise of the far right, and vulnerable students do not receive the support they need to access, enjoy and remain in education. Teachers often lack the professional autonomy or support to teach students about education for sustainable development, including climate change, and the topic is marginalised despite being a central part of the full SDG agenda.

The obstacles are many, but this report also underlines that failure to achieve SDG 4 by 2030 is not inevitable. Though time is running out, the world can be put back on track towards achieving the goal if immediate, bold action is taken now. Each of the key obstacles identified in this report can be solved with better, equity-focused policies developed in collaboration with members of the teaching profession.