Target 4.A | Education facilities and learning environments

Somali children wash their hands before eating lunch at Shabelle boarding school in Mogadishu. "We learn about hygiene at school – we learn that it is important to wash our hands after going to the toilet – We learn that it is important to wash our hands before eating too. I feel better now that I am washing my hands – I don’t get sick as often.".

CREDIT: Kate Holt/GEM Report

Target 4.A | Education facilities and learning environments

Target 4.a recognizes child-centredness, democratic participation and inclusiveness as principles of a child-friendly school. Not all these are amenable to global monitoring, but three aspects of them are: school infrastructure, ICT use, and violence and attacks in schools.


Improving water, sanitation and hygiene facilities in education institutions can have significant positive effects on health and education outcomes. Yet only 71% of primary schools had adequate water supply in 2013, and the figure was just 52% in the 49 least developed countries.

Only 52% of primary schools had adequate water supply in 2013 in the least developed countries Click to Tweet

When schools are unsafe, the impact of natural hazards is magnified. Some countries inspect school safety closely, but not all can afford to monitor in detail. Participatory tools have been developed to help students and the community provide information on school conditions.

People with disabilities need to overcome a wide range of physical and social obstacles to gain access to schools. It is difficult to know if facilities are suitable for children with disabilities due to the lack of a definition of accessible schools and, often, limited monitoring capacity.


The basis for monitoring ICT in education is the 2003 Geneva Plan of Action of the World Summit on the Information Society, which had two targets related to education.  Using ICT in schools requires readily and regularly available electricity. In many sub-Saharan African countries, the lack of mains electricity hampers the use of ICT. In the Central African Republic, practically no primary or secondary school was connected to an electrical grid. In Guinea and Madagascar, there are more than 500 learners per computer.


School-related violent acts or threats occur on school premises but also on the way to school, at home or in cyberspace. While attention usually focuses on extreme events, such as shootings, more common forms of violence have the largest negative impact on the education experience of children and adolescents. They tend to be underreported, as they often involve taboos.

About 40% of 13- to 15-year-olds in 37 countries reported having been involved in physical fights over 2009–2012 Click to Tweet

Bullying is the most widely documented form of violence in schools. In the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, about 41% of grade 8 students reported having been bullied at least once in the previous month. Physical violence is very common. About 40% of 13- to 15-year-olds in 37 countries reported having been involved in physical fights over 2009–2012. Sexual violence is a highly destructive form of violence in schools, much of whose scale and scope remain hidden. Overall, international surveys need to better coordinate the questions they use to ensure consistent measurement of global school-based violence trends.

Monitoring of attacks related to education is also vital to respond effectively and hold perpetrators accountable. Military use of schools took place in 26 countries over 2005–2015. In 2009–2012, 1,000 or more education-related attacks per country took place in six countries.