Critical Perspectives at the Midpoint of the SDG 4 : Progress, Promises and Pitfalls

A Special Issue Journal of the International Journal of Educational Development. Edited by Amber Webb, M. Niaz Asadullah, and D. Brent Edwards, Jr.


As we approach the midpoint of the UN’s 2030 Agenda, it is imperative to reflect on the gaps in development planning that may not have been apparent in 2015, as well as interrogate progress made (or not made) towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Critical reflection on these topics will help determine the path forward in the remaining years of the UN agenda.To this end, the SDG Academy at the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN) has partnered with esteemed experts to develop a special issue (SI) focused on SDG 4, Quality Education. The SI explores an array of critiques, best practice, and evaluation topics related to SDG 4. Challenges and barriers to achieving this goal, as well as innovative ideas and solutions, are emphasized in an effort to inform the 2023 UN SDG Summit and events in its aftermath. The specific objectives are to:

      1. highlight critical scholarly dialogue on the vision of SDG 4;
      2. deepen discourse on the topic of measurement for SDG 4;
      3. provide practical case studies of the impact of development planning on education, as it relates to SDG 4;
      4. inform and enrich global policy discourse linked to the UN SDG Summit.

In sum, this special issue offers a high level view on the progress achieved in the first half of the 2030 Agenda, and remaining challenges, including criticism of the overall SDG 4 measurement and governance framework. The issue consists of contributions from top academic and policy scholars around the world.

Critical Perspectives at the Mid-Point of Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality Education for All—Progress, Persistent Gaps, Problematic Paradigms, and the Path to 2030 | D. Brent Edwards, Jr., M. Niaz Asadullah, Amber Webb (link forthcoming)

SDG 4 baselines, midpoints and targets: Faraway, so close? | Manos Antoninis

Historicising the geopolitics of education and the SDGs: From Western hegemony to a multi-polar world? | Mario Novelli

Elevating the purpose of education to achieve the spirit of SDG 4 | Emily Markovich Morris, Ghulam Omar Qargha, Rebecca Winthrop

Still waiting for the (data) revolution. Examining supply-demand mismatches in the production of SDG 4 metrics | Clara Fontdevila

Should we not be educating for resilience? Leveraging SDG 4 in times of crisis | Aaron Benavot, James H. Williams, Jordan Naidoo

A radical proposal: Evidence-based SDG 4 discussions | Jeremy Rappleye, Iveta Silova, Hikaru Komatsu, Keita Takayama

Transforming the financing of education at the mid-point of the sustainable development goals | David Archer

SDG 4 as a global governance tool and the quest for recognizing diversity – Implications emerging from the intersections between inclusive education and assessment | Christian Ydesen, Maren Elfert

The case for educational reparations: addressing racial injustices in sustainable development goal 4 | Sharon Walker, Leon Tikly, Krystal Strong, Derron Wallace, Crain Soudien

Partnerships for education in emergencies: The intersecting promises and challenges of SDG 4 and SDG 17 | Francine Menashy, Zeena Zakharia

Beyond sustainability: Indigenous Knowledge Systems for locally and globally renewing earth relations | Elizabeth Sumida Huaman, Jonnelle Walker

Assessing progress in tracking progress towards the education Sustainable Development Goal: Global citizenship education and teachers missing in action? | Pauline Rose, Yusuf Sayed

SDG 4 and state capacity: The missing link | Karen Mundy

Learning as ecosystems: Shifting paradigms for more holistic programming in education and displacement | Ritesh Shah, Mieke Lopes Cardozo, Jessica Hjarrand

Has the significance of Target 4.7 of the SDGs changed? A commentary focusing on the critical role of socio-emotional learning | Kazuhiro Yoshida

The crosscutting impact of higher education on the Sustainable Development Goals | Tristan McCowan

Why SDG 4 and the other SDGs are failing and what needs to be done | Steven J. Klees

Feasibility first: Expanding access before fixing learning | Lee Crawfurd

Reprioritising inclusion and equity to meet SDG4: Action is needed beyond the education sector – and must begin before school entry | Catherine Porter

Education: Why not a race to the top? | Leonardo Garnier

The sustainable development goals and education, achievements and opportunities | Fernando M. Reimers

Still in need of confronting: Shadow education and its implications in the sustainable development goals | Mark Bray

Global indicators of progress on climate change education: Non-state actor data collaboration for SDG 4 | Marcia McKenzie, Aaron Benavot, Aaron Redman

Intensions, tensions and resistance: International organizations’ struggles in monitoring and measuring SDG4 | Camilla Addey

SDG 4 targets: Neglected questions on conditions and circumstances for education reforms in Africa | Moses Oketch

Hidden in plain sight: The foundations and limitations of global governance and global goals | D. Brent Edwards, Jr.

SDG 4 mid-point challenge: Fixing the broken interlinkages between education and gender equality | M. Niaz Asadullah, Amber Webb, Kazi Md Mukitul Islam