Assessing progress towards SDG target 4.7

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates

I wrote the other day about the problems inherent in target 4.7 of the SDGs:

By 2030, ensure all learners acquire 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.

This is what you get when you have 597 people in a room all chipping in their ideas.  In his presentation to Learning for Sustainability Scotland's recent AGM, UNESCO's Aaron Benavot said this:

  • the target touches upon social, humanistic and moral purposes of education
  • it explicitly links education to other SDGs and transformative aspirations of the SD vision
  • the targets refers to all learners and all education levels: Strong lifelong learning perspective. Should will [sic] need to examine knowledge and skills among tertiary level students and adults
  • the knowledge and skills learners are meant to acquire in target 4.7 are broad umbrella concepts, and consequently difficult to operationalize.
  • should lead to improvements in the quality of education provided

How the last two points cohere is beyond me.  However, Benavot is director of the recent Global Education Monitoring (GEM) report and should be regarded as an expert in these matters.  He added:

  • capturing the intent of 4.7 is a complex and dynamic task.
  • country commitments and statements in relation to target 4.7 are likely to change in the coming years, partly due to the SDG agenda
  • most of the concepts in 4.7 have contested definitions as well as different histories, and understandings, even in international documents
  • it's difficult to come up with a consensual analytic framework of the different concepts embedded in Target 4.7, among experts in these areas

Well, he should know, I suppose.  I suspect that what he really meant was, "If only we'd been more careful in writing this stuff."  He then suggested the following (NB, these are his notes, not mine):

One Global indicator 4.7.1 (see 2016 GEM Report)

25. The 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 (no surveys of knowledge and skills to promote SD and GC)

... and Four Thematic Indicators (some UIS data available, see eAtlas)

26. Percentage of students by age group (or education level) showing adequate understanding of issues relating to global citizenship and sustainability (no, but placeholder measure: percentage of youth with adequate understanding of issues relating to HIV/AIDS and sexuality education, 71 countries)

27. Percentage of 15-year-old students showing proficiency in knowledge of environmental science and geoscience (placeholder measure: results from PISA 2012, some 63 countries)

28. Percentage of schools that provide life skills-based HIV and sexuality education (yes for some 75 countries)

29. Extent to which the framework on the World Programme on Human Rights Education is implemented nationally (as per UNGA Resolution 59/113) (no data)

The trouble is that #4.7 is about outcomes whereas 3 of these 5 (25 / 28 / 29) are about inputs.

However, note Indicator #27: "knowledge of environmental science and geoscience".  Whilst this is a long way from ESD, it's right up environmental education's alley.  UNESCO turns, it seems.  Expect more on this ...

Meanwhile, you can download the 2016 GEM Report here and / or follow blogs here.  Or you can shut the computer down and go and get some exercise – ideally in the fresh air and nature ...

Posted in: Comment, News and Updates


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