In 2015, one hundred and ninety – three countries – all of the UN’s Member States – unanimously accepted SDG 4 – to bring quality, equitable, inclusive education and life long learning opportunities to their citizens.
WHAT ARE SOME EARLY COMMITMENTS MADE BY COUNTRIES?
In those early days, countries have expressed their commitments to the development of conditions that are conducive to the implementation of SDG 4.
While National Plans for the implementation of SDGs, particularly SDG 4 are not handily available at this time, we can extrapolate commitments prioritized by countries who agreed to a Voluntary National Review (VNR) of their planning progress.
These VNRs are conducted every year in July by the High Level Political Forum (HLPF) of ECOSOC which is the UN’s central platform for the review and follow up of SDGs
Here are some of the commitments prioritized by some of our NFA countries. Although 22 countries were reviewed, we’ve only cited our NFA countries. Many of you will not see your country cited below because it, most likely, was not reviewed in 2016:
Priorities in national implementation:
- France and Switzerland: Importance of consultation with expert groups and the exercise of vital national in the implementation of the sustainable development within all national priorities.
- Switzerland and Mexico: Importance of the overlap of the SDGs with other international instruments and the importance of international collaboration in the enhancement of its national implementation.
Challenging national circumstances and commitments to be prioritized:
- Sierra Leone and Mexico – reduction of high levels of poverty.
- Sierra Leone and Uganda – less dependence on natural resources and agriculture and uncertain commodity prices.
- Egypt and Uganda – rapidly growing populations and outstripping supplies.
- Sierra Leone, France, Uganda, Egypt – high unemployment rates particularly youth unemployment.
Priorities deriving from assessment of implementation of SDGs:
- Turkey and Switzerland have prioritized the alignment of SDGs with National priorities after conducting an alignment analysis and gap analysis, respectively.
- Mexico is prioritizing making information available to the public and improving statistical capacities.
- Turkey prioritizes greater stakeholder ownership.
- Norway is placing emphasis on understanding what the universality of the 2030 Agenda means for its country and is addressing both the national and international dimensions of the SDGs.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION ON MY COUNTRY’S PLANNING AND IMPLEMENTATION OF SDG 4?
- In your country’s National Plan for SDG 4.
- If your country has completed its plan, your regional office of the central/federal Department of Education will have a copy. Be forewarned that it will not be an easy read and unless you are used to reading government literature, you may never want to read again. Instead, ask for a summary or highlights of the plan or the work- in- progress.
WHAT WILL I FIND IN MY COUNTRY’S NATIONAL PLAN?
National plans contextualize SDG 4 goals, outcome targets and indicators of qualitative and quantitative success. In other words, your government will have translated global commitments into commitments that fit the needs of your country and respond to your country’s unique set of national circumstances.
WHAT ARE SOME SPECIFIC ACTIONS I OR MY NFA CAN TAKE TO CONTRIBUTE TO SDG 4 AT THIS EARLY STAGE?
- Make understanding and working on SDG 4 a priority in your NFA. Individuals can work on this but given the scope of activities, working in a group will be easily more rewarding. You can also collaborate or twin with another NFA: this is an incredible opportunity for all NFAs to support each other.
- Recognize the value of planning and good process. Good processes result in good outcomes.
- Build your knowledge of SDG 4 and become involved in creating awareness and a shared understanding about SDG 4 with your fellow members, colleagues, family and friends and other NFAs. This is good practice and it will make you proficient in SDG 4.
- Attend as many community- based education -related focus group meetings conducted by the government as you can. Meetings are usually posted in newspapers, on the net and in other public domains. If you are diffident, it’s ok to just sit and listen. Advocacy comes with listening and learning.
- Participate in awareness building and discussions about SDG 4 within your community, city and country. Make sure that these meetings have a fair diversity representation at the table because they are usually conducted by government entities or consulting firms and are the foundations for SDG 4 planning; thus, they can have a huge impact on outcomes. Write to your government contact if there are segments of society missing from the table, for example, the private sector, educators, civil society, parent groups, youth groups, ethnic groups and first nation groups and others.
- Provide input to “country- readiness” assessment tools that your government may be using so that tools include all important criteria for a productive assessment. Some examples of criteria are: your country’s vision for its people, existing education policies and legislation, gender, quality and geographic gaps, cultural norms, education delivery systems, funding and resources, regional and international partnerships, policy development, monitoring and evaluation and management capacities.
- Monitor how completely your government mainstreams its commitments and targets in national education policy priorities and national budgets. Advocate if necessary for additional resources, a realignment of education priorities for women and girls, a realistic timeline for implementation, the establishment of meaningful national benchmarks.
- Finally, remember that global policies will continue to impact the implementation of SDG 4 within your country no matter how contextualized its goals, strategies and targets. So, continue to keep GWI apprised of conditions in your country so that we can advocate for your NFA and your country based on accurate information.
Question: How has education been viewed by your government to date and which aspects of education and its delivery in your country, you hope, will change for the better with the implementation of SDG 4.
Next time: We will look at availability of resources, partnerships and international collaborations in the implementation of SDG 4.
The Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2016