Updated: Nov 3, 2018
Image credit: Rusty Stewart
“It is not time to tell the leaders to realise how important education is – they already know it – their own children are in good schools. Now it is time to call them to take action.”
– Malala Yousafzai
I don’t think any quote in the world sums up Global Goal 4 better than these words spoken by Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai. The power of education is not to be underestimated. Education is by far the most impactful tool for success. The Global Goals recognise the importance of education in achieving the overall aims of ending poverty, fighting inequality and fixing climate change. Education has the ability to empower people to make lasting and sustainable change for the future.
The first aim of Goal 4 is to ensure every single person has access to free primary and secondary education. This has been achieved in Australia; however there is always room for improvement in the standard of education and accessibility to education in remote areas.
The next aim is for everyone to have access to early childhood care. While Australia has many childcare centres, waiting lists are increasingly common. There is also the issue of cost; in some instances, it costs parents almost a day’s salary for an extra day of childcare a week, rendering picking up extra work almost pointless.
Image credit: World Bank Photo Collection
The Global Goals also reference access to tertiary education. This includes not only university courses but tertiary trade and skills courses.
A major theme of the Global Goals – fighting inequality – comes into play in Target 4.5. This target specifically mentions equal access for men and women – which Australia has achieved with flying colours with more women graduating from tertiary education than men. The other mention of inequality references those in vulnerable situations. This has not yet been achieved given that people with disabilities, people living in remote areas and people of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander descent do not have the same chance to receive a proper education as the rest of the population.
While it may be all well and good to have access to education, the Global Goals require the education to achieve something. The first and most important achievement is literacy and numeracy. In Australia, according to the Canberra Institute of Technology, only 54% of the population have achieved literacy and 47% of the population have achieved numeracy. This is an alarming figure for a country in which almost everyone has access to education and highlights the need for urgent action to be taken for our education system. The other important subject for everyone to learn is sustainable development. The Global Goals Australia Campaign is proud to be leading this initiative in Australia! This year, we will be launching a series of Australian-curriculum aligned lesson plans for school children to learn about sustainable development. If you are interested in finding out more, please visit our school resource page! We are also offering sustainable development focused training days for corporations, companies and other organisations. If this is something in which your organisation would be interested in participating, please contact us for more information.
Another key point of the Global Goals is ensuring education facilities are safe and inclusive for all students.
Image credit: Monash University
Australia is blessed with access to education services for many people in many locations around the country. Unfortunately, for those in our Indo-Pacific neighbouring countries, they do not experience access to this same basic right. That is why the Global Goals are encouraging countries like Australia to invest in education in more vulnerable parts of the world and to provide opportunities for students to travel to broaden their horizons and understanding of the world. Australia has already shown leadership in this area through the Colombo Plan. It is also necessary to increase the number of teachers in developing countries to give students access to smaller class sizes thereby promoting a better quality of learning.
If Australia’s commitment to education for all sounds like something with which you would like to become involved, check out “Goal 4: Quality Education” and head over to our “What Can I Do?” page to see how you can become part of the solution with the Global Goals Australia Campaign!