SDG #4: Quality education and lifelong learning for all | Strategic Risk | Deloitte


SDG #4: Quality education and lifelong learning for all

Sustainable Development Goals Blog Series

On January 1st, 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development officially came into force. Over the next 15 years, with these 17 goals, countries will combine efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change. In this article we aim to familiarize you with SDG Goal #4: Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning, and what actions your organization can take to achieve this goal.

By Jasmijn Korver | 10-08-2017


In recent years, major progress has been made towards increasing access to education at all levels and increasing enrolment rates in schools particularly for women and girls. Not surprisingly, inclusive, equitable and quality education is a key enabler of sustainable development. However, children, youth and adults are still being confronted with discrimination when it comes to access quality learning opportunities, despite international affirmation of the right to education. SDG Goal 4, strives to combat this inequality and promotes learning for all. Moreover, this goal holds the ingredients to fueling sustainable growth, by building social cohesion and stability, and supporting human rights and equality. According to the United Nations, goal #4 could be seen as the golden thread that runs through all 17 SDGs .

There is a tremendous potential for the private sector to contribute to SDG 4, and we hope this blog will inspire you and provide you with new thoughts on this topic. 


Investing in education is essential to develop a skilled workforce for the future, increase productivity and to improve economic growth. If it comes to education, businesses have the potential to make an impact in the education sphere, by being an effective partner in improving education systems and learning around the globe. For businesses, several incentives can be recognized why it is beneficial to get engaged with SDG 4. Please find below some of the incentives that have been selected:

Skilled workforce and increased wages
Providing education among employees will develop human capital that is required to create a skilled worked force. A more educated workforce will lead to higher wages, and therefore more disposable income for consumer spending. For example, one additional school year can increase a woman’s earnings by 10 to 20 percent. This will lead to societies with more disposable incomes for goods and services, while at the same time strengthening women’s empowerment in families and communities.

Brand leadership and corporate reputation 
By investing in education, several opportunities for businesses can arise. For instance, it can result in new markets and customer bases. Looking from a brand perspective, consumers have claimed a willingness to buy socially conscious brands. In addition, shareholders of large companies have expectations that these companies manage their social impact. 


Please find below some actions how you can contribute to the realization of SDG 4.

Digital connectivity plays a critical role in bettering lives and it provides access to unprecedented knowledge for billions of people worldwide. As a result more and more people have access to (free) education online. Tech companies from Silicon Valley and other regions have begun providing solutions to problems ranging from adaptive learning to global access of high quality education. This type of education technology, also known as edtech, is getting more and more important with regard to learning across the globe and in the last few years there has been a surge in investment from schools and investors in this industry. The education market is constantly growing and it is forecasted that education technology investment alone will reach $252 billion by the year of 2020. Some examples of current top edtech companies are Duolingo, Noodle and Knewton.

Engage in partnerships
In addition to making individual contributions, it is also effective to engage in partnerships to support collective action. Businesses have the opportunity to engage in global education initiatives, offering a diverse variety of partnerships with governments and education organizations across the globe. Some examples of educational partnerships that you could engage in are among other, One Eleuthera (center for Training and Innovation), Nationsplay (a global learning program) and the ILead Program (center to promote a reading culture among children living in rural areas).

Develop capacity of the future workforce
Businesses should identify current and future competencies needed for the labor market, and make sure to design and implement appropriate training programs for their workforce. Also, businesses can invest in (basic) education in developing markets in order to improve the future talent pool. In addition, businesses should also keep in mind that ageing population provides significant opportunities for sustainable development through the active participation of older generations in the economy, labor market and society at large (e.g. by unpaid care work, political participation and by continue working after retirement).

Given the challenges and opportunities aforementioned, there is a clear need to contribute to SDG #4.  


Sustainable Development Goals Blog Series

This blog is part of the Sustainable Development Blog Series: a blog series that highlights the 17 SDGs one by one on a biweekly basis. In these blogs you will find more information about each SDG, why it is important for your organisation to contribute to the achievement of it, and specific examples of how you can do that.

More information?

For more information about the Sustainable Development Goals and what your organisation can do to contribute, please contact Anne Huibrechtse-Truijens via / +31882882071

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