September 11, 2018

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development commits all governments, the UN system, civil society, business and millions of people across the world to address some of the world’s biggest challenges. On this International Literacy Day, we need to realise that educated, active citizens are at the heart of the implementation of the entire global agenda.

Education is also a standalone goal within this framework. Member states have agreed on a progressive Framework for Action for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of Education which sees education as a fundamental right.

It is a public good for which the government is the principal duty bearer and reiterates a focus on equity, inclusion and gender equality. The Education goal also focuses on the quality and relevance of learning.

Despite the cutting-edge nature of the SDG agenda, early indications suggest that the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals has been slow. According to UN figures, more than half of children and adolescents worldwide are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics.

result of over 12 lakh teachers being untrained.

Education is also under-resourced — while successive governments have committed India to allocation of 6 per cent GDP to education, the allocations has never crossed 4 per cent. As of this Intentional Literacy Day, only 12 per cent schools in India comply with statutory minimal national RTE norms.

This scenario is doubly unfortunate since the world will be evaluating progress on SDG 4 implementation next year. Given the urgency, it is not too late for a concerted push to improve implementation.

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