Today, the EFA Global Monitoring Report releases a critical review of the post-2015 education targets in the paper, Where do the proposed education targets fall short? This paper underscores the importance of formulating feasible, specific and relevant targets to ensure more effective implementation, rigorous monitoring and greater progress in education in the future.
At the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) held in Rio de Janeiro in June 2012, 192 member states called for a set of sustainable development goals that “address and incorporate in a balanced way all three dimensions of sustainable development and their interlinkages.” The sustainable development goals to be proposed would be “action-oriented, concise and easy to communicate, limited in number, aspirational, global in nature and universally applicable to all countries.”
Following Rio+20, an Open Working Group (OWG) was created and tasked with preparing a proposal for a limited number of transformative and universally applicable development goals. Each goal would be accompanied by clear targets with measurable outcomes. After a long and complex consultation process the OWG proposed seventeen sustainable development goals (SDG) in July 2014, including one dedicated to education:
SDG Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all
The proposed education goal was accompanied by 7 targets and 3 means of implementation (see Figure 1 below). It reflects a broader policy agenda than the corresponding MDGs, which mainly focused on primary education completion and gender parity in education.
In December 2014 the UN Secretary General published a Synthesis Report opening a small window for discussion of how targets are formulated. It stated that ‘measurable targets and technically rigorous indicators’ were needed, and that each target should be framed ‘in language that is specific, measurable, achievable and consistent with UN standards and agreements’. The Report encouraged the conduct of a review of the targets with contributions by technical experts outside the UN System.