The feasibility, the costs and the benefits of attaining SDG 4, Universal Secondary Education by 2030.

Irfan, Mohammod Taiyeb (2016). 'The feasibility, the costs and the benefits of attaining SDG 4, Universal Secondary Education by 2030.' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Tokyo 2016.

The rate of progress at which the developing countries expanded education in the recent times is unprecedented. Global educational goals, which are framed usually as universal participation targets with a common deadline for all countries, worked as important catalysts in the surge. Following the success of the MDGs the development community has shifted their focus on secondary education. A target of attaining universal secondary education (USE) by 2030 has become a major goal in the SDGs. This paper searches for an alternative framing of such goals, one mindful of the variations in the existing situation in the countries and based on realistic and achievable pace of progress. Once the paper identifies such an aggressive but reasonable (AbR) path of educational expansion, International Futures modeling system, a computer simulation that represents complex interactions between education, economy and society, is used to compare three different path of educational expansion – the model base case or a no-policy-push scenario, a USE (imposed) by 2030 path and an AbR scenario. The results indicate that the low-income countries of the sub-Saharan Africa, the focus of this work because of the lack of educational opportunities therein, will attain universal access to lower and upper secondary by around 2050 following an aggressive but reasonable (AbR) path. Even though the USE goal is not met by 2030 in the AbR path, enrollment rates make a much larger leap than the base case by then. The AbR path, in which access to education opens up roughly in the middle of the base case and the USE2030 scenarios, proves also to be more cost advantageous compared to the USE2030 path.

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