The Covid-19 pandemic undoubtedly hurt the state of education in our country and the world. However, as Stefania Giannini (assistant director-general for education at the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation – UNESCO) and Leonardo Garnier (special adviser to the UN secretary-general for the Transforming Education Summit) alluded to in an article titled Future of the World in our Hands, the reality is that education has always been critical for learning and access even before the pandemic.
Cue the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals, developed in 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly and intended to be achieved by 2030, are a universal call to action to end poverty, protect the planet and improve the lives and prospects of people around the world. They are a collective and inclusive effort to promote prosperity in a changing world.
The 17 SDGs encompass 169 more detailed targets. As a Foundation, we are committed to SDG 4, which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. While SDG 4 is our primary focus, we are conscious of the fact that the SDGs are deeply interconnected, and a lack of progress on one, negatively impacts others.
The world is now in a critical state where we must ramp up sustainability initiatives. By 2030, the aim is to achieve various targets under SDG 4, including those related to teacher development, early childhood development, tertiary education, skills development, and the eradication of gender inequalities. The outcomes of the recent COP27 Summit cemented South Africa’s commitment to achieving these targets.
As Trevor Noah Foundation, through the Khulani Schools Programme, Education Changemakers, and Khula Funda Literacy Programme, together with our partners, we provide access to quality educational outcomes to underserved communities.
Ten indicators are defined under ten targets in SDG 4. Seven indicators are outcome-oriented targets encompassing universal literacy and numeracy; free primary and secondary education; equal access to high-quality early childhood education; affordable technical, vocational, and higher education; increased numbers of people with skills necessary for financial success; elimination of all forms of discrimination in education; and education for sustainable development and global citizenship. Three indicators define ways of accomplishing targets: to construct and improve inclusive and secure schools, raise the number of higher education scholarships available to developing nations, and boost the availability of competent instructors in such countries.
Since October 2022, the TNF team has been participating in training to learn more about the SDGs, the elements embedded in them, and how they are interlinked. The training cemented our understanding of the role we can play as an organisations, to contribute to the 2030 Agenda.
The workshops are facilitated by Prof. Willem Fourie, a globally recognised expert on the SDGs and Dr Yolande Steenkamp, the South African Network Manager for the global Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN). Both facilitators represent the Albert Luthuli Leadership Institute, based at the University of Pretoria. In each session, team members completed and presented learnings. The sessions have been instrumental in equipping our team with foundational understanding of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the SDGs. We have also acquired broad knowledge of the six Transformations within the SDGs to facilitate a deepened understanding of the first transformation – education, gender, and inequality.
We want to thank Prof. Willem Fourie and Dr Yolande Steenkamp for taking the time to capacitate the team with profound knowledge of the SDGs and making sure that each person understands how they catalyse change within society.