SDG 4 is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. In simple terms, SDG 4 is quality education for all and even though quality is diverse, it simply suggests that whatever the education system seeks to provide has to be of high quality.
In 2017, 262 million children and young people aged 6 to 17 were still out of school, and more than half of the children and adolescents are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics.
Meeting SDGs in general can be very tricky because so many things can affect just that one thing. For instance, countries can build as many schools as they can but there are so many things that can stop children from getting to those schools.
A UNICEF report reports that 1 in 3 children and young people between 5 and 17 years old living in countries affected by conflict or disaster are not in school, that’s 104 million.
The report also notes that 1 in 5 young people aged 15 to 17 years old living in countries affected by conflict or disaster have never entered any school.
In South Africa, nearly 24.2% of learners mentioned the lack of money as the main reason for not attending an educational institution – this is reported by the Statistics S.A in their 2018 General Household Survey. The report also adds that 7.9% of individuals left their studies as a result of family commitments (i.e. getting married, minding children and pregnancy).
There are countless issues preventing children from getting to school, regardless of the fact that in the past, efforts have been put forward to ensure that schools are built.
Leadership has been agreed to be the root to many of our problems, especially in Africa. However, the big question is whether new leaders know what to do. Do they understand that a single decision such as the Operation Murambatsvina in Zimbabwe, can place millions out of school?
Up to 2.4 million children in South Sudan are not receiving education. This is due to years of conflict, displacement and economic collapse.
Getting every learner in school is a tale we all want to see, however, for as long as SDG 4 is not approached in a manner that acknowledges that there are a lot of things in the system that affect education, this tale will forever remain a fairy tale.