Since 2000, there has been enormous progress towards achieving the target of universal primary education. In 2015, the total enrolment rate across developing regions reached an unprecedented 91 percent, while the number of children out of school has almost halved globally. There has also been a dramatic increase in global literacy rates, as well as more girls enrolled in school than ever before. Each of these achievements are remarkable.
Despite this, progress has stagnated in certain regions due to extreme poverty, armed conflicts and other emergencies. In Western Asia and Northern Africa, ongoing and armed conflict has increased the number of children out of school. This is a worrying trend with many implications. While sub-Saharan Africa made the greatest progress in primary school enrolment among all developing regions – from 52 percent in 1990 up to 78 percent in 2012 – large inequalities remain. Children from the poorest households are up to four times more likely to be out of school than their wealthier counterparts. Such disparities are most evidenced between children living in rural and urban areas.
Achieving inclusive and quality education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. As such, the fourth SDG aims to ensure all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. The goal also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education.