Regional Frameworks for Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

Around the world, countries and international governmental organisations have designed regional education plans to articulate the SDG 4 Targets. Some of the regional education plans were designed prior to the adoption of the SDGs, and regional organisations had 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.

During the 3rd SDG-Education 2030 Steering Committee Meeting in 2017 (Meeting Report), members evaluated the role of regional organisations in the field of education. The conclusions of the session showed that almost all regions of the world have entities, which allow countries to share information about education and learn from each other (GEMR, 2017).

To evaluate where each of the regions are in the process of considering and including SDG 4 Targets in their regional education plans, a mapping of regional and sub-regional strategies, targets and frameworks was conducted. This was achieved by a review of all available regional plans or reports, with a summary of their characteristics and the articulation with SDG 4 Targets.

Regional Education Strategies and Monitoring and Information Frameworks

Several regional and sub-regional organisations have for mandate to generate information and promote consensus among countries in the field of education based on common goals. These organisations have different levels of organisation and participation. In some agencies, members are composed of ministries of education for each country members of the organization. In other cases, the organisations have representatives of the civil society or officials, who are appointed by each country or government with a membership. These entities can be part of a supra-regional organisation. In general, the members of these organisations have some common linking features such as a geographic territory (European Union, SEAMEO), a language (CONFEMEN), cultural or historical characteristic (OEI, CARICOM).

The regional organizations included in the review process are:

Pacific Regional Education Framework (PacREF)

African Union Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Commonwealth South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
Caribbean Community
European Union Organizacion de los Estados Iberoamericanos South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation
Southeast Asia Ministers of Education Organization Sistema de la Integracion Centroamericano Economic Commission for Latin America and the Carribbean

These different organisations reached agreements on educational targets in common for the medium- and long-term. These transnational commitments require national and regional coordination and monitoring mechanisms to follow their progress towards the achievement of their goals and address any uprising issues. Meanwhile, organisations began to articulate, if not already done, their regional objectives to take into account the SDG 4 Targets and the Education 2030 Agenda.

Regional Organisations and Plans and Frameworks

In 2016, the Heads of State and Government of the African Union adopted the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA 16-25) as the framework for transforming education systems in Africa. CESA 16-25 is designed to involve the broadest coalition possible for education and training in Africa. This approach implies acceptance and adaptation of the global Education 2030 linked to SDG 4 to focus Africa's specific priorities.

The CARICOM 2030 Human Resources Development (HRD) Strategy is a regional framework developed to ensure the successful participation of the Caribbean Community in the economy and society of the 21st century. The CARICOM 2030 HRD is articulated in the CARICOM Strategic Plan (2015-2019). Following the global assessment of the Millennium Development Goals and the Post-2015 Development Agenda, the CARICOM 2030 Strategy focuses on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 53 independent and equal sovereign states. The Commonwealth Secretariat provides guidance on policy making, technical assistance and advisory services to Commonwealth member countries. In 2018 the secretary has produced a Status Report on the current status of indicators relating to Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) in the various member states of the Commonwealth of Nations.

The ECLAC presents a proposal that contributes to stimulate and sustain the intergovernmental dialogue and that allows to count, at the same time, with the contribution of the specialized organisms to reach a consensus among member countries regarding the regional framework of indicators for monitoring the Sustainable Development Goals in Latin America and the Caribbean.

In 2017, the Council, the Member States and the European Parliament adopted the Consensus on Development, 'Our world, our dignity, our future'. The Member States align the development policy of the Union with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. By contributing to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda, the EU and the Member States also promote a stronger and more sustainable and inclusive approach. This Consensus offers guidance for the implementation of the Agenda Education 2030 in partnership with all developing countries. The objective is to provide the framework for a common approach to development policy that will be applied by the EU institutions and the Member States.

The educational goals 2021 of the OEI were adopted by the Ibero-American countries in 2008. This framework is linked to several objectives of the SDG4, but the OEI is in the process of aligning its goals with the goals of the agenda Education 2030.

The Pacific Community is an international development organisation owned and governed by its 26 country and territory members. The Pacific Community Strategic Plan 2016-2020 proposes goals and priorities. The Pacific Community (SPC) recognizes that national programs and services must adapt to the new development landscape at the national, regional and global levels. These programs should reflect the strategic direction established in the Framework for Pacific Regionalism, the regional priorities identified in the SAMOA (Small Island Developing States (SIDS) Accelerated Modalities of Action) Pathway and the Commitments in the SDGs.

In the region the Forum of the Pacific Islands is a political and economic organization (it comprises 18 members). The vision of the Forum is to seek a region of peace, harmony, security, social inclusion and prosperity so that its population can lead free, healthy and productive lives. The Forum works to promote cooperation between governments and collaboration with international agencies. The work of the Forum is reflected in a framework for Pacific Regionalism approved by the members in 2014 that establishes the strategic vision, values, objectives and approach to achieve a deeper regionalism in the Pacific.

The PacREF promotes a human rights approach to education and seeks to empower the people of the Pacific Islands. The PacREF is based on six targets: regionalism and mutually beneficial partnerships, application of tests to policies and practices, efficiency in the use of resources, equity in access and opportunity and relevant and high-quality contributions, and high-quality and sustainable results. PacREF is the program of strategies and activities in four policy areas: i) quality and relevance, ii) learning pathways, iii) student welfare and outcomes, and iv) the teaching profession.

The objectives of the SAARC are: to promote the well-being and quality of life of the peoples of South Asia, accelerate economic growth, social progress and cultural development to provide all individuals the opportunity to live with dignity, strengthen cooperation with other developing countries and between member countries and cooperate with international and regional organizations with similar purposes.

The SEAMEO promotes regional cooperation in education, science and culture. The SEAMEO Council is composed of the 11 Ministers of Education. The SEAMEO promotes human capacity and explore the maximum potential of the people of the region through the promotion of quality and equity in education, preventive health, culture and the preservation of tradition, training, research, Information and Communication Technology (ICT). SEAMEO has seven Priorities for the 2015-2030 in the Action Agenda presented at the 48th SEAMEO Council Conference.

The "Política Educativa Centroamericana" (PEC) is a set of guidelines for provide the eight member countries of ¨Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana¨ with a general framework of action in education based on regional priorities. This framework responds to a need national and international converge of the countries signed in 2011. The Ministers of the region have signed the commitments that oblige the States to articulate the "Política Educativa Centroamericana" with international commitments.

SDG 4 Targets and the GOALS established in Each Regional Plan or Regional Report

Regional organisations have development plans or frameworks. All have the objective of improving the quality of life of their population. Of 12 plans and reports analyzed, most have objectives similar to those of SDG 4:

  • 10 include an area of education
    • 7 are regional plans that contain objectives of education

Mapping of Regional Education Plans to SDG 4 Targets

SDG 4 Targets Regional and sub-Regional Plan
Organizations 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.a 4.b 4.c
Africa Union
Central American
Pacific Community
Pacific Island Forum
  • Several plans and reports are articulated around SDG 4 Targets, and one report is articulated with the all SDG 4 Thematic Indicators (SEAMEO baseline).
  • For the Africa Union, the Commonwealth, CEPAL, SEAMEO, and EU, there is an effort to take into consideration some SDG 4 Indicators and regional indicators (WHICH ARE?).
  • Several regional organisations aim to align their regional plan with SDG 4 (CEPAL, CARICOM, Pacific Community, EU).
    • None of the regional organisations with available national data reports linked OR MADE REFERENCE to the SDG 4 Indicators.
    • Many organizations are developing a monitoring framework, but few are reporting on the implementation of their education strategies.

Priority Concepts in Regional Education Plans

The SDG 4 Thematic Indicators are grouped into 11 concepts:

  • Completion
  • Environment
  • Equity
  • Knowledge
  • Learning or readiness to learn
  • Participation
  • Policies
  • Provision
  • Resources
  • Scholarships
  • Skills and teachers (motivation, qualification and training)[1].

[1] UIS (2018): The Investment Case for SDG 4 Data. Concept Note. Technical Cooperation Group on SDG4- Education 2030.

Participation, learning or readiness to learn, and completion are the most recurrent concepts in the objectives of the regional education plans of the 12 regional organizations considered in this review; the plans have, as priorities, to improve the enrolment rates in early childhood education and secondary education, and increase the readiness to learn (learning) of students. Finally, the completion of compulsory education level is a common goal for all member countries of all organizations, with the exception of CARICOM (the Caribbean Community) plan, whose main priority is to improve the skills of its youth and adults. The equity of the offer of education in a transverse axis in the plans.

The following table shows the priorities of each plan.


Thematic indicators frequently included in regional plans

Many of the regional frameworks included at least 16 SDG 4 Thematic Indicators.

  • SDG 4 Global Indicators 4.1.1 (children and young people with minimum proficiency levels in reading and mathematics) and 4.6.1 (youth achieving a fixed level of proficiency in functional literacy and numeracy skills) are included in all regional plans or frameworks. BUT THESE ARE NOT THEMATIC!

Note: The table includes only the indicators that are in at least 4 plans or reports.