Beats | March 16, 2017

It’s time to step up progress on universal education

The team at


Progress toward universal education (Sustainable Development Goal №4) is the biggest driver of all the other goals as well.

If everyone in the world completed secondary school by 2030, poverty would be eliminated 10 years earlier than currently forecast.

The International Commission on Financing Global Education Opportunity reported the vision could be achieved within a generation if education in all countries improves as fast as the fastest-improving quartile of countries.

Suffice to say, that is not yet happening. A new report from UNESCO warns if current trends continue “universal primary completion will be achieved in 2042, universal lower secondary completion in 2059 and universal upper secondary completion in 2084.”

No low-income countries are currently projected to meet the universal education target. “We need to get our act together to accelerate educational attainment in an unprecedented manner,” writes economist Jeffrey Sachs, a special advisor to the U.N.

The education commission report proposes “the largest expansion of educational opportunity in history” and the financial investment required to achieve it.

The plan calls for low and middle-income countries to raise their spending on education from $1 trillion in 2015 to $2.7 trillion by 2030, or from 4 to 5.8 percent of GDP.

International sources, including foreign aid, would play only a small part in total education financing, but would still need to rise from an estimated $16 billion per year today to $89 billion per year by 2030.

This post originally appeared in ImpactAlpha’s daily newsletter. Get The Brief.

Photo credit: UNICEF