Setting Benchmarks to Achieve SDG 4 Targets

Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Education 2030 Framework for Action called on countries to establish “appropriate intermediate benchmarks (e.g. for 2020 and 2025)” for the SDG indicators, seeing them as “indispensable for addressing the accountability deficit associated with longer-term targets” (§28). However, a majority of countries has not yet translated the global targets into specific ones to serve as references to report their progress in a regular manner.

To fill this gap and make countries accountable vis-a-vis the agreed global targets of the 2030 Agenda in education, seven global indicators were endorsed to benchmark the global framework against regional ones at the 6th meeting of the Technical Cooperation Group on SDG 4 (TCG) in 2019 in Yerevan, Armenia.

The extraordinary session Global Education Meeting in October 2020 reminded countries of this commitment. Its Declaration called on “UNESCO and its partners, together with the SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee, to … accelerate the progress and propose relevant and realistic benchmarks of key SDG 4 indicators for subsequent monitoring” (§10).

The effectiveness of the process to set, monitor and act on benchmarks rests on two factors:

  • agreement on political commitments; and
  • overcoming technical challenges.

In response, countries and international governmental organisations have designed regional education plans to articulate the SDG 4 Targets. Some of these regional education plans were designed prior to the adoption of the SDGs, and regional organisations had then generated instruments to articulate their education plans to take into account the SDG 4 Targets.

For others, the consideration of the SDG 4 Targets is included in their plan as they are developing them.

Regional processes

Each region has its own framework to set, monitor and report on the benchmarks to achieve the SDG 4