Advancing the SDGs through inclusive education

In this interview Julia Gillard, chair of the Global Partnership for Education and former Australian prime minister, talks about what it will take to achieve new targets for education.

An educated society is a lynchpin for inclusive, competitive and dynamic economies. So education has rightfully been a high priority on international development agendas.

The Millennium Development Goal target of achieving universal primary education by 2015 saw great strides over the 15-year period, but ultimately fell short.

The 2030 development agenda is, by most accounts, more wide-ranging than its MDG predecessor. For education that means expanding the objective from one solely focused on access to one that also strives for quality.

“The Sustainable Development Goals agenda has gotten wise to those problems,” Julia Gillard, chair of the Global Partnership for Education and former Australian prime minister, told Devex in an exclusive interview at the 2015 World Innovation Summit for Education. “The quality of what’s happening in those classrooms is open to a lot of questions,” she said.

The Global Partnership for Education launched in 2002 as a multistakeholder initiative and funding platform to support quality education in developing countries. It does so by offering a platform for governments, business and civil society groups to develop national education sector plans and exchange best practices on education, ranging from teacher training and assessments to retention rates and gender inclusion.

A teacher and her class in Laos. Photo by: Stephan Bachenheimer / Global Partnership for Education / CC BY-NC-ND

Building on the still incomplete goals of the MDGs, SDG 4 — ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all — is indeed ambitious. The GPE estimates that more than 124 million children worldwide are not enrolled in school. And the cost to achieve complete enrollment is projected at around $39 billion more per year than is currently spent. Moreover, funding for education is often fragmented and subject to the constraints of limited public budgets.

As Gillard points out, collective action initiatives play an important role in addressing funding gaps; by working with stakeholders to coordinate a robust national policy on education, they can more effectively identify resource constraints and present them to public and private financiers.

See more of what Gillard has to say about advancing inclusive education in the video interview above.

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About the author

  • Naki B. Mendoza

    Naki is a former reporter, he covered the intersection of business and international development. Prior to Devex he was a Latin America reporter for Energy Intelligence covering corporate investments and political risks in the region’s energy sector. His previous assignments abroad have posted him throughout Europe, South America, and Australia.