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The Sustainability Series: Goal #4, Quality Education


Pearl Patterson, Staff Writer

Here at Behrend, we are all provided the opportunity for a quality education. We go to school in a safe space, with educated faculty and staff and educational resources abound. But this is not the case for all people. A college education is expensive, and the primary education that many have had the privilege to receive is dependent on government funding, planning, and resources that many people are not privy to. The UN has established “Quality Education” as the 4th Sustainable Develop Goal because it’s still something that many people do not receive on a global scale. There are many obstacles keeping children in the world from a quality education, and at the root of most of these problems is money. Having a classroom to learn and teach in is a privilege, as a lack of classroom space is a problem for many people. There are often not teachers with adequate education to provide young people with knowledge. The UN focuses especially on equal educational opportunities for both male and female students, which is an issue that also relates directly to the UN’s 5th Sustainability Development Goal of achieving gender equality. Living in a country that is in conflict is another obstacle to a quality education.  

The UN estimates that 250 milling children are living in countries with ongoing conflict that has an effect on their educational opportunities. A government in conflict is a government that cannot dedicate as much time and resources that is necessary to provide free and equitable primary and secondary education. It is also necessary to provide the necessary means for students with disabilities to have the same access that other students do. 

UNICEF is a global non-profit organization that in part attempts to reduce the number of students who do not have the opportunity to quality education. They note that “Schooling does not always lead to learning” which is a quote that captures many of the intentions of the UN’s 4th goal: provide education to those who do not have access to it, and improve the quality of education being provided already. Improvements are being made, and there is much to be hopeful about in this area. Global participation in primary education went from 63% in 2010 to 70% in 2016, with about 85% of primary school teachers having received training in the same year. 

The first step to improving this issue is recognizing the privilege that we have here at our school. Just noticing the ways in which our education is valuable is a good way to begin to understand this goal. If quality education is something you’re passionate about, consider programs such as the Peace Corps and AmeriCore as post-graduation philanthropic endeavors that can help achieve this valuable goal and to also give perspective about how education opportunities are vastly different around the world.