Setting Benchmarks to Achieve SDG 4 Targets
The Benchmark Framework
Since the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the Education 2030 Framework for Action called on countries to establish appropriate intermediate benchmarks for the SDG indicators, seeing them as indispensable for addressing the accountability deficit associated with longer-term targets. Tracking the progress in SDG 4 has been difficult due to missing data for a variety of capacity reasons and interests among Member States.
To fill the SDG 4 data gap and make countries accountable vis-a-vis the agreed global targets of the 2030 Agenda in education, seven (7) global indicators were endorsed to benchmark the global framework against regional ones at the 6th meeting of the Technical Cooperation Group on SDG 4 (TCG) in 2019 in Armenia:
- 4.1.1 Learning proficiency - 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
- 4.1.2 Completion rate - Completion rate (primary education, lower secondary education, upper secondary education)
- 4.1.4 Out-of-school rate - Out-of-school rate (1 year before primary, primary education, lower secondary education, upper secondary education)
- 4.2.2 Participation rate in pre-primary learning - Participation rate in organized learning (one year before the official primary entry age), by sex
- 4.c.1 Proportion of teachers with the minimum required qualifications - Proportion of teachers with the minimum required qualifications, by education level
- 1.a.2 Government expenditure on education (total) - Proportion of total government spending on essential services as percentage of total government expenditure
- 1.a.gdp Government expenditure on education (GDP) - Proportion of total government spending on essential services as a proportion of the gross domestic product (GDP)
Following the 2021 Global Education Monitoring conference's Ministerial Segment, the majority of Member States have defined their benchmark values for 2025 and 2030. Each region has its own framework to set, monitor and report on the benchmarks to achieve the SDG 4. In Asia-Pacific, the UIS has partnered with UNESCO Bangkok and Learning and Education 2030+ Networking Group (formerly known as Regional Thematic Working Group on Education 2030+) in establishing regional benchmarks for the region.
Target 4.3 on the participation in vocational education and tertiary education has been adopted in Asia-Pacific as additional benchmark indicators:
- 4.3.1 Participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education and training in the previous 12 months
- 4.3.2 Gross enrolment ratio for tertiary education
- 4.3.3 Participation rate in technical and vocational programmes (15- to 24-year-olds)
Coordination of the Benchmarking Process in Asia-Pacific
The Asia Pacific Learning and Education 2030+ Networking Group, co-chaired by UNESCO Bangkok and UNICEF, serves as the coordination mechanism and the Asia-Pacific Meeting on Education 2030 (APMED2030) serves as the consultation platform for the exchange of knowledge, best practices and support to countries in all aspects of the implementation and monitoring of SDG 4-Education 2030.
The regional coordination mechanism also brings together the following sub-regional organizations: South East Asia Ministers of Education Organization (SEAMEO), South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), and the Pacific Islands Forum (PIF). Each of these organizations has its own education sector strategies aligned with SDG4-Education 2030 and they also participate in broader regional level efforts.
The UIS has been closely working with Learning and Education 2030+ Networking Group in developing its Regional Roadmap (2015-2030) and providing technical support in implementing monitoring components of the roadmap. Below is the outline of the international processes in the benchmarking process.
The global website of the Technical Cooperation Group on SDG 4 provides additional information on the benchmarking process, such as frequently asked questions: https://tcg.uis.unesco.org/benchmarks-asia-pacific/
The regional office of the UIS in Bangkok is currently implementing the benchmarking process by providing technical support to Member States in Asia-Pacific. The benchmarks will provide Member States with the benefits outline in the below image.