The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Series: Goal 4

G4Goal Four: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

This SDG is the extension of the second Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of achieving universal primary education. It has been acknowledged since the creation of the MDGs that there should probably be a more broad focus on education rather than just primary education, which is why SDG Four emphasizes primary, secondary and tertiary education, as well as vocational and technical training. Sub-Saharan Africa was on track to achieve MDG Two with the net primary enrolment at 100% in 2013, yet, according to the UNDP MDG Progress Report for Africa 2015, only 67% of children are likely to complete primary school. According to the report: “This poor performance in primary completion is due to a number of factors including insufficient education infrastructure, limited choice for girls and other vulnerable social groups, inadequate consideration of the reality of traditionally hard-to-reach groups such as nomadic people, persons with disabilities, and children from disadvantaged economic and ethnic groups. The insufficient number of qualified teachers and the lack of relevant curricula to meet the needs of these groups are also root causes of the poor quality of education.”

Aside from enrolment rates, this goal emphasizes literacy for the population, especially the youth, which have a literacy rate of about 70% in Africa, according to UNDP data for 2012. This goal also focuses on equity between girls and boys in education.. Another interesting emphasis of this goal is its focus on life-long learning, which again acknowledges that work should be done on education beyond primary school. For example, target 4.4 (see below for all proposed targets) notes that individuals must acquire the skills needed for employment after completing their education rather than just saying education is successful because enrolment is at  100%. This part, however, is slightly more difficult to measure since looking just at unemployment won’t illustrate whether or not those leaving school are employable.

Proposed Targets:

4.1 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes

4.2 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education

4.3 By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university

4.4 By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship

4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations

4.6 By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial portion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy

4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development

4.a Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all

4.b By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries

4.c  By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing States


The Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Series: Goal 3

SDG3Goal Three: Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages

SDG Three serves as the health-focused goal and as a combination of three separate Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that focused on health-related outcomes: Goal 4 on child mortality; Goal 5 on maternal mortality; and Goal 6 on HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases. As with the last two SDGs, this is meant to be a more all encompassing version of its predecessors from the MDGs. This is accomplished in the goal’s inclusion of mental health, substance abuse, road traffic accidents, and pollution, among others, in its targets (see all proposed targets below). Africa achieved impressive results in combating child mortality and the prevalence of HIV/Aids, Malaria and Tuberculosis in the last 15 years. Maternal mortality, on the other hand, remains a challenge, although the current efforts in place are likely to lead to a significant reduction in maternal deaths in the coming years.

As mentioned, this goal includes more than the standard measures of health that were included in the MDGs. For example, there is an emphasis on preventing and treating substance abuse. There is also a reference to mental health, something many developing countries are struggling with, as there are generally not enough relevant medical personnel. In Africa, according to WHO statistics from 2011, the psychiatrist-to-patient ratio is less than 1 to 100,000, with 70% of African countries allocating less than 1% of the total health budget to mental health.

Proposed Targets:

3.1 By 2030, reduce the global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 per 100,000 live births

3.2 By 2030, end preventable deaths of newborns and children under 5 years of age

3.3 By 2030, end the epidemics of AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, and neglected tropical diseases and combat hepatitis, water-borne diseases and other communicable diseases

3.4 By 2030, reduce by one third premature mortality from non-communicable diseases through prevention and treatment and promote mental health and well being

3.5 Strengthen the prevention and treatment of substance abuse, including narcotic drug abuse and harmful use of alcohol

3.6 By 2020, halve the number of global deaths and injuries from road traffic accidents

3.7 By 2030, ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health-care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes

3.8 Achieve universal health coverage, including financial and risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all

3.9 By 2030, substantially reduce the number of deaths and illnesses from hazardous chemicals and air, water, and soil pollution and contamination

3.a  Strengthen the implementation of the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control in all countries, as appropriate

3.b Support the research and development of vaccines and medicines for the communicable and non-communicable diseases that primarily affect developing countries, provide access to affordable essential medicines and vaccines, in accordance with the Doha Declaration on the TRIPS Agreement and Public Health, which affirms the right of developing countries to use to the full the provisions in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights regarding flexibilities to protect public health, and, in particular, provide access to medicines for all

3.c Substantially increase health financing and the recruitment, development, training and retention of the health workforce in developing countries, especially in least developed countries and small island developing States

3.d Strengthen the capacity of all countries, in particular developing countries, for early warning, risk reduction and management of national and global health risks

Useful Links:

MDG Report 2015 – Lessons learned in implementing the MDGs

CAI Discussion Paper: The Silent Crisis – Mental Health in Africa

Book Review: ‘Nationalism’ – Rabindranath Tagore

tagoreOriginally published in 1917, Rabindranath Tagore’s ‘Nationalism’ remains an insightful critique of the concept of the ‘nation’ and ‘nationalism’. The essay was published at a time of a growing Indian nationalist movement, heartened by the successes of Japan in re-defining its relationship with the Western world. Tagore’s text is a warning to the Indian (and other colonised) nationalist movement to not adopt whole-sale the Western concept of nationalism without understanding its power, purpose and costs when it comes to implementing it in a non-Western context:

“It is like dressing our skeleton with another man’s skin, giving rise to eternal feuds between the skin and the bones at every movement.” (p. 4)

To modern readers, this text offers much by way of understanding what keeps a nation together (and working), and the impact of nations on individuals and (non-Western) societies.

To Tagore the nation is simply “the political and economic union of a people… organised for a mechanical purpose” (p. 38) where “the only common bond is usefulness” (p. 19). The nation, a Western construct, is unsuitable for India he argues, because of India’s ethnic diversity. Europe, which Tagore presented as a relatively homogeneous region, could more smoothly marshal the collective effort of her peoples because all of her people were essentially the same. India, and Asia more broadly, does not share this attribute as it is much more diverse – a ‘weakness’ to the nation – warns Tagore.

The nationalist movement in India would have to separate the useful aspects of nationalism and incorporate it into an already well-established Indian society (as Japan seemed to be succeeding at doing). The alternative would be to re-shape Indian society in order to be able to adopt the nation concept. In his view, India is not a nation but as a reaction to colonialism, an Indian nation may be necessary to restore India and her people to dignity:

“… we had to deal, not with kings, not with human races, but with a nation – we, who are no nation ourselves” (p. 38)

This is an important consideration for (public) leaders in Africa as we look to draw strength from our diversity, rather than allow our diversity to continue to challenge Africa’s aspirations.

A second critique of the nation concept is woven into the language of the text. The nation is presented as “scientific, not human” (p. 9) and modern progress as a “lumbering structure… riveted by the iron bolts of efficiency, which runs the wheels of ambition” (p. 31). To Tagore, the machine metaphor is extended to its effect on the nationals themselves who are “smothering their humanity under the immense weight of organisations” (p. 21). As a result “the moral man, the complete man, is more and more giving way, almost without knowing it, to make room for the political and commercial man, the man of limited purpose” (p. 45).The nation should be a tool for society and individuals, not the other way around – and leaders must be aware of this tension:

“In the so-called free countries the majority of the people are not free; they are driven by the minority to a goal which is not even known to them.” (p. 85)

Nationalism is not an attack on Europe or the West. It is however a caution against an uncritical adoption of a Western concept (to a non-Western context) that was making headways at the time and remains relevant today – in the era where business as usual impedes sustainable development.

This book review was written by Dr. Gwamaka Kifukwe, a Researcher at UONGOZI Institute and the host of UONGOZI Institute’s two TV programmes, ‘Meet the Leader’ and ‘In Focus’

Nationalism’ and many other materials are available at the UONGOZI Institute Resource Centre.