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Beyond commitments 2019: how countries implement SDG 4
Place of publication | Year of publication | Collation: 
Paris | 2019 | 52 p.
Corporate author: 
Global Education Monitoring Report Team
© UNESCO 2019


Almost one-third of the time set to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) has elapsed. The 2019 High-level Political Forum (HLPF), the global SDG follow-up and review mechanism, represents a major stock-taking moment for countries, especially as regards SDG 4, the education goal, which is being reviewed for the first time.


The international community relies primarily on quantitative measures to assess progress towards the SDGs. Acompanion publication by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics and the Global Education Monitoring Report for the 2019 HLPF, titled ‘Meeting commitments: Are countries on track to achieve SDG 4?’, shows that there are major challenges ahead.


But increasingly, member states demand more than quantitative information. They ask for guidance on how to respond when their education systems do not reach their targets. To respond to this demand, this publication has the following purposes:

  • Understand countries’ perceptions of SDG 4 based on responses to a questionnaire prepared for this publication, which asked countries to report on their flagship SDG 4 policies
  • Distil those perceptions into a framework of the types of national policies that are best aligned with SDG 4 and whose implementation should be monitored
  • Communicate the framework succinctly and provide a complementary input for the review of SDG 4 at the 2019 HLPF
  • Provide an opportunity for countries to engage in dialogue on how they approach SDG 4.


An analysis of the questionnaires submitted by 72 governments shows that most countries refer to SDG 4 as a framework in which they place their education planning. A core recommendation is that countries should align their education plans and policies with their international commitments. 


Resource Type: 
Case studies and research papers
International understanding / Globalisation / International education / Interdependency
Sustainable development / Sustainability / Environmental
Level of education: 
Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE)
Primary education
Secondary education
Higher education
Lifelong learning
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
Non-formal education


Universal education; Educational policy; Educational evaluation; Monitoring; SDG4