Working towards the Sustainable Development Goals for 2030

The Council of Pacific Education (COPE) held a special workshop this year in Nadi, Fiji to address and report on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Born out of the Millennium Development Goals, which expired in 2015, the three day conference focused on the goals of quality education (SDG4), gender equity (SDG5), and decent work and income (SDG8).

The conference was attended by delegates Lubna Haddad (NSW/ACT) and Simon Schmidt (VIC/TAS) who represented the IEUA along with Christine Cooper (Federal Assistant Secretary), who joined 38 delegates from the Pacific Islands and New Zealand.

Speakers came from the International Labour Organisation, UNESCO and Pacific Island Forum Secretariat. Delegates outlined the progress and challenges faced by islands of the Pacific, Australia and New Zealand in implementing and achieving educational outcomes, decent work, and the empowerment of women facing employment challenges, educational barriers and domestic violence.

Since 2015, the SDGs remain partly achieved, and this year’s COPE workshop tasked education unions and teacher organisations with rejuvenating national and regional conversations to implement and meet the SDGs.

The education goal (SDG4), is broken down into 10 targets for 2030 (and in some cases earlier):

universal completion of quality primary and secondary education

universal access to early childhood education 

universal access to affordable technical, vocational and tertiary education 

empowerment of youth and adults with skills relevant to decent employment 

elimination of gender disparities, and equal access to education for all, including indigenous people, vulnerable groups and people with disabilities 

universal literacy and numeracy amongst youth, and improved rates amongst adults

education for sustainability, and the teaching of sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity

safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective education facilities and learning environments

quality scholarships for developing countries, and

Increasing the supply of properly qualified teachers in developing countries.

The sessions were thought provoking, especially the individual country reports. Australia achieved many of the education goals but the watered down funding under Gonski 2.0, and the neoliberal approach to education, has damaged the equality of access to education. The education of Indigenous, migrant and students with a disability is of concern.

Throughout the workshops, the IEUA delegates worked closely with others and played a key role in facilitating sessions, assisting by applying SWOT analysis of progress, and guiding discussions to create effective and measurable action plans for implementation by individual countries. A follow up agenda for the IEUA was finalised, with a particular focus for quality education by 2030.

In coming months IEUA will plan its strategy for engaging with and advancing the SDG agenda and co-ordinating its approach with the AEU and NTEU, as fellow affiliates of Education International.

In the meantime, we want you, teachers and schools who are going to, or have been implementing or adapting the SDGs in your curriculum and classrooms, to share your success story, by emailing Organiser Lubna Haddad