United NationsDepartment of Economic and Social Affairs Sustainable Development

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


Related Goals

Targets and Indicators



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


Proportion of children and young people: (a) in grades 2/3; (b) at the end of primary; and (c) at the end of lower secondary achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics, by sex



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


Proportion of children under 5 years of age who are developmentally on track in health, learning and psychosocial well-being, by sex


Participation rate in organized learning (one year before the official primary entry age), by sex



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


Participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education and training in the previous 12 months, by sex



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


Proportion of youth and adults with information and communications technology (ICT) skills, by type of skill



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


Parity indices (female/male, rural/urban, bottom/top wealth quintile and others such as disability status, indigenous peoples and conflict-affected, as data become available) for all education indicators on this list that can be disaggregated



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


Percentage of population in a given age group achieving at least a fixed level of proficiency in functional (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills, by sex



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


Extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development, including gender equality and human rights, are mainstreamed at all levels in: (a) national education policies, (b) curricula, (c) teacher education and (d) student assessment



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


Proportion of schools with access to: (a) electricity; (b) the Internet for pedagogical purposes; (c) computers for pedagogical purposes; (d) adapted infrastructure and materials for students with disabilities; (e) basic drinking water; (f) single-sex basic sanitation facilities; and (g) basic handwashing facilities (as per the WASH indicator definitions)



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


Volume of official development assistance flows for scholarships by sector and type of study



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


Proportion of teachers in: (a) pre-primary; (b) primary; (c) lower secondary; and (d) upper secondary education who have received at least the minimum organized teacher training (e.g. pedagogical training) pre-service or in-service required for teaching at the relevant level in a given country

Progress and Info

At the end of 2019, millions of children and young people were still out of school, and more than half of those in school were not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and numeracy. The closure of schools to slow the spread of COVID-19 is having an adverse impact on learning outcomes and the social and behavioural development of children and young people. It has affected more than 90 per cent of the world’s student population, 1.5 billion children and young people. Although remote learning is provided to many students, children and young people in vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, such as those living in remote areas, extreme poverty, fragile states and refugee camps, do not have the same access thereto. The digital divide will widen existing gaps in equality with regard to education.

In 74 countries with comparable data for the 2011–2019 period, around 7 in 10 children 3 and 4 years of age were on track developmentally in at least three of the following domains: literacy-numeracy, physical development, social-emotional development and learning.

Participation in organized learning one year before the official primary age of entry grew steadily, from 62 per cent in 2010 to 67 per cent in 2018. However, variation among countries is still wide, with values ranging from 9 to nearly 100 per cent.

The primary school completion rate reached 84 per cent in 2018, up from 70 per cent in 2000. Under current trends, the rate is expected to reach 89 per cent globally by 2030. In 2018, 258 million children, adolescents and young people 6 to 17 years of age were still out of school, representing 17 per cent of the global population of that age group. Parity between children or adolescents from the richest and poorest quintiles of the population was achieved in 25 per cent of countries for primary education, 21 per cent of countries for lower secondary education and only 1 per cent of countries for upper secondary education.

In 2018, some 773 million adults, two thirds of them women, remained illiterate in terms of reading and writing skills. The global adult literacy rate, for the population 15 years of age and older, was 86 per cent in 2018, while the youth literacy rate, for the population 15 to 24 years of age, was 92 per cent. Southern Asia is home to nearly half of the global illiterate population, and sub-Saharan Africa is home to one quarter thereof.

In 2019, less than one half of primary and lower secondary schools in subSaharan Africa had access to electricity, the Internet, computers and basic handwashing facilities, key basic services and facilities necessary to ensure a safe and effective learning environment for all students.

ODA for scholarships amounted to $1.6 billion in 2018, up from $1.3 billion in 2017. 

Based on data from 129 countries, the percentage of primary school teachers receiving the minimum pedagogical training according to national standards throughout the world has stagnated at 85 per cent since 2015. The percentage is lowest in sub-Saharan Africa (64 per cent) and Southern Asia (72 per cent).


Source: Progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, Report of the Secretary-General, https://undocs.org/en/E/2020/57