The Danish Institute for Human Rights has developed a human rights guide to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The guide goes through all 17 goals and 169 targets to uncover their human rights anchorage, as well as the underlying indicators' human rights adequacy.

This document details the human rights standards for goal four, the education goal, as well as the standards related to the targets.

The guide enables actors to use human rights as a driver for realising the SDGs – and to use the SDGs to realise human rights.

Useful insights for all relevant stakeholders

The guide provides useful insights for governments, UN agencies, National Human Rights Institutions and NGOs. Rights-holders directly addressed in the SDGs eg, women, persons with disabilities, youth, workers, indigenous peoples and business will also find helpful insights.

The guide helps:

  • States to incorporate the SDGs in their human rights reporting
  • To choose the right indicators for the SDG targets
  • To influence national-level implementation strategies and follow-up and review processes
  • To build capacity of NHRIs, major groups, business and others to lead a human rights-based approach to the realisation of SDGs.

How the guide works

The guide is meant as a reference work, where you can look up the human rights implication of a given goal, target or indicator.

This guide, organised around a set of questions and answers to 'unpack' SDG4, provides overall guidance for a deeper understanding of SDG4 within the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, in order to support its effective implementation. The guide outlines the key features of SDG4-Education 2030 and the global commitments expressed in the SDG4 targets as articulated in the Incheon Declaration and the Education 2030 Framework for Action. The guide also examines the implications of translating these global commitments within, and through, national education development efforts.

Key resource

Education is a fundamental human right of every woman, man and child. In states’ efforts to meet their commitments to making the right to education a reality for all, most have made impressive progress in recent decades. With new laws and policies that remove fees in basic education, significant progress has been made in advancing free education. This has led to tens of millions of children enrolling for the first time and the number of out of school children and adolescents falling by almost half since 2000. Important steps have also been taken with regard to gender parity and states have made efforts to raise the quality of education through improved teacher policies and a growing emphasis on learning outcomes. 

Despite these efforts, breaches of the right to education persist worldwide, illustrated perhaps most starkly by the fact that 262 million primary and secondary-aged children and youth are still out of school. Girls, persons with disabilities, those from disadvantaged backgrounds or rural areas, indigenous persons, migrants and national minorities are among those who face the worst discrimination, affecting both their right to go to school and their rights within schools.

To respond to the challenges, the Right to Education Initiative (RTE) with UNESCO have developed this handbook to guide action on ensuring full compliance with the right to education. Its objective is not to present the right to education as an abstract, conceptual, or purely legal concept, but rather to be action-oriented. The handbook will also be an important reference for those working towards the achievement of SDG4, by offering guidance on how to leverage legal commitment to the right to education as a strategic way to achieve this goal.