Projections: How will expanding education affect sustainable development outcomes?
On current trends, universal primary completion will be achieved in 2042, universal lower secondary completion in 2059 and universal upper secondary completion in 2084.
Rich countries are not on course either: Even at the fastest rate of progress ever seen in the region, 1 in 10 countries in Europe and Northern America would still not achieve universal upper secondary completion by 2030.
Universalizing upper secondary completion for women in sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 would result in 300,000 to 350,000 fewer child deaths per year in 2050.
In low income countries, universalizing upper secondary completion in low income countries by 2030 would increase per capita income by 75% by 2050 and bring poverty elimination forward by 10 years.
Universal upper secondary completion by 2030 would prevent 200,000 disasterrelated deaths in the 20 years that follow.
PROJECTING GLOBAL EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT TO 2030 AND BEYOND
The 2016 GEM Report projects prospects for achieving universal secondary completion by 2030 using a globally representative data set and sophisticated methodology. The message is stark: The world will be 50 years late in achieving its global education commitments. On current trends, universal primary completion will be achieved in 2042; universal lower secondary completion in 2059; and universal upper secondary completion in 2084. The poorest countries will achieve universal primary education over 100 years later than the richest. The principal conclusion is that, in low and middle income countries alike, the SDG scenario requires an unprecedented break with past trends if the attainment component of target 4.1 is to be achieved.
FORECASTING EFFECTS ON DEVELOPMENT OUTCOMES
While the projection exercise suggests that the SDG education target may not be met, even modest progress can make a big difference to the next generation. To gain a sense of how education expansion contributes to other SDGs, the GEM Report analyses how education can help save lives (by reducing infant and child mortality and increasing adult life expectancy), lift people and countries out of poverty (by increasing aggregate national economic growth and reducing absolute extreme poverty) and reduce disaster vulnerability.
Achieving universal upper secondary completion by 2030 would reduce the under-5 mortality rate in sub-Saharan Africa from 68 to 54 deaths for every 1,000 live births by 2030 and from 51 to 38 deaths for every 1,000 live births by 2050. Since children’s health can benefit from community-level effects and the diffusion of healthy practices and behaviours, child mortality might drop even more than these estimates suggest.
Education can boost per capita income by raising labour productivity and accelerating technological development and adoption. In low income countries, universalizing upper secondary completion would increase per capita income by 75% by 2050. Even if achieving SDG target 4.1 is not sufficient to eliminate extreme poverty by 2030, it could bring poverty elimination forward 10 years.
Education can help reduce disaster-related deaths, since educated people tend to exhibit more awareness of risks, a higher degree of preparation and appropriate responses, and smaller average losses when disaster strikes. If universal secondary education were achieved by 2030, then by 2040–2050 there would be 10,000 to 20,000 fewer disasterrelated deaths per decade, compared to the 250,000 deaths between 2000 and 2010, if disaster frequency remained constant. Universal secondary education would have a particularly strong impact on disaster-related deaths in Asia, since it has the largest populations and many of the most vulnerable reside in coastal areas.