HLPF 2019 - Revision of SDG4: "The world is off track!" says EI’s Susan Hopgood

Education International’s president Susanne Hopgood addressed the HLPF plenary during the revision of SDG4 and warned the world for being "severely off track to achieve SDG 4 by 2030". This is the speech she delivered on Tuesday, 9 July 2019 in New York.

As the president of Education International, I am here today representing over thirty-two million teachers and education support personnel.

Education International asked these educators for their perspective on where the world stands on quality education for all and the answer was clear – the world is severely off track to achieve SDG 4 by 2030.

Not enough governments have taken the necessary steps to implement SDG 4, and some have implemented policies that actively undermine the agenda.

Educators identified 5 major obstacles that hinder the achievement of SDG 4.
First, teaching widely remains an unattractive profession. Teachers and education support personnel too often suffer poor working conditions — precarious contracts, high workloads, poor professional development opportunities and low salaries. In Cameroon, our members report that salaries are often below $50 dollars per month. In Morocco, nearly 30% of the teaching workforce has been employed on precarious contracts in an attempt to cut the public wage bill. In the UK, over two thirds of teachers are seriously considering leaving the profession; workload is cited as the principle cause. Unless all governments dramatically improve teachers working conditions, we are never going to attract the 69 million more teachers necessary to achieve SDG 4.

Second, human and trade unions rights continue to be violated. Education union leaders in the Philippines are under attack. Academics in Turkey are being imprisoned. And in Iran, teachers are being detained for protesting peacefully. Unless all governments respect educators’ basic rights including freedom of association and professional autonomy, quality education for all will remain a dream.
Third, public education remain underfunded and education systems are becoming increasingly privatised, threatening the world’s commitment to free primary and secondary education. Unless all governments strengthen public systems and recognise education as a human right and public good, not a commodity, we are never going to achieve equitable and inclusive education systems.

Fourth, inequitable systems continue to exclude and discriminate against minorities and the vulnerable. Governments must take the necessary steps to ensure that education systems welcome and nurture students of all identities and backgrounds.
And last, but importantly, progress towards education for sustainable development is too slow. Students of the world are speaking out demanding climate justice, but our education systems are not catching up. Unless governments prioritise education for sustainable development and rid education from climate denial, our youth won’t have the knowledge, skills and attitudes to defend necessary to defend save our planet.

So today, representing educators from around the world, I call on governments to accelerate SDG 4 implementation. With strong political will, good planning and coordination, and adequate investment, and by working with educators and their unions, we can get back on track to achieve the world we want within 11 years.

Back to the main page on the HLPF 2019