Grading Goal Four – Tensions, Threats, and Opportunities in the Sustainable Development Goal on Quality Education

Grading Goal Four – Tensions, Threats, and Opportunities in the Sustainable Development Goal on Quality Education

Grading Goal Four – Tensions, Threats, and Opportunities in the Sustainable Development Goal on Quality Education

For the third time in three decades world leaders reaffirmed their promise of “Education For All” when adopting Sustainable Development Goal 4 in 2015. It is the most far-reaching commitment to quality and equity in education so far, yet, there is no consensus on what the agenda means in practice.

With a decade left until the 2030 deadline, Grading Goal Four calls upon the education community to engage more thoughtfully and critically with SDG 4 and related efforts. As an ever-growing number of actors and initiatives claim to contribute to its achievement, it is becoming clear that the ambitious but broad priorities within the goal are vulnerable to cherry-picking and misrepresentation, placing it at the heart of tensions between instrumentalist and rights-based approaches to education. This text, a critical analysis of SDG 4, provides a framework for examining trends and developments in education globally.

As the first volume that examines early implementation efforts under SDG 4, Grading Goal Four formulates a critique along with strategies for moving forward. By scrutinising the challenges, tensions and power dynamics shaping SDG 4, it advances rights-based perspectives and strategies for effective implementation and builds capacity for strengthened monitoring and analysis of the goal.


Chapter 1 – Introduction: Bringing Out the Tensions, Challenges, and Opportunities Within Sustainable Development Goal 4

Antonia Wulff

Chapter 2 – The twists and turns in negotiating a global education goal:

A civil society perspective

Antonia Wulff

Chapter 3 – Gender Equality, Education, and Development: Tensions Between Global, National, and Local Policy Discourses in Postcolonial Contexts

Naureen Durrani and Anjum Halai

Chapter 4 – Quality Education for All? The Promises and Limitations of the SDG Framework for Inclusive Education and Students with Disabilities

Christopher J. Johnstone, Matthew J. Schuelka, and Ghada Swadek

Chapter 5 – A Critical Exploration of How Language-of-Instruction Choices Affect Educational Equity

Lizzi O. Milligan, Zubeida Desai, and Carol Benson

Chapter 6 – Universities, the Public Good, and the SDG 4 Vision

Stephanie Allais, Colleen Howell, Palesa Molebatsi, Lerato Posholi, and Elaine Unterhalter

Chapter 7 – Education for All Open for Business? Public Goods vs. Private Profits

Alexandra Draxler

Chapter 8 – Financing SDG 4: Context, Challenges, and Solutions

David Archer and Tanvir Muntasim

Chapter 9 – SDG 4 and the ‘Education Quality Turn’: Prospects, Possibilities, and Problems

Yusuf Sayed and Kate Moriarty

Chapter 10 – Teachers Are More Than ‘Supply’: Toward Meaningful Measurement of Pedagogy and Teachers in SDG 4

Stephanie Bengtsson, Mamusu Kamanda, Jo Ailwood, and Bilal Barakat

Chapter 11 – Reshaping Quality and Equity: Global Learning Metrics as a Ready-made Solution to a Manufactured Crisis

Aaron Benavot and William C. Smith

Chapter 12 – Learning Assessments in the Time of SDGs: New Actors and Evolving Alliances in the Construction of a Global Field

Clara Fontdevila

Chapter 13 – Can Education Transform Our World? Global Citizenship Education and the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

Joel Westheimer

Chapter 14 – Will Education Post-2015 Move Us toward Environmental Sustainability?

Hikaru Komatsu, Jeremy Rappleye, and Iveta Silova

Chapter 15 – Reflections on Targets and TVET

Stephanie Allais and Volker Wedekind

Chapter 16 – Between Tokenism and Inclusion: The Student Movement in the Post-2015 Process

Luke Shore and Viktor Grønne

Chapter 17 – The Right to Education and SDG 4: Lessons from the Field and Next Steps for Civil Society Monitoring

Allyson Krupar and Anjela Taneja

The whole book is open access, published by Brill | Sense, and you find it here: