/SDG 4: Quality Education

Enable inclusive, equitable, and high-quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

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Lars Keller
Universität Innsbruck
Tel. +43 512 507 2895

The Agenda 2030

The 21st century is characterised by major social, economic and ecological challenges, the so-called Grand Challenges. In addition to political decision-makers, all other parts of society, above all science and education, are called upon to take responsibility and find solutions that contribute to a comprehensive transformation towards a sustainable and liveable future. The prerequisite for this is the joint and active discussion of future issues, which leads to profound changes in people's thinking and actions.

Global environmental change, including the climate crisis and the exploitation or contamination of natural resources, endanger the regeneration and sustainability of the planetary foundations of life. The cause is a wasteful culture of 25 per cent at the expense of 75 per cent of the world's population - and the consequences of global warming will be suffered primarily by those who did not cause it. The unequal distribution of resources in the economy and also of power is not decreasing, neither in a North-South perspective nor within individual countries. On the contrary, it has visibly worsened in recent decades. Migration movements and armed conflicts are logical consequences of these developments.

Education can contribute greatly to developing and supporting societal path changes. In order to achieve this ambitious goal, the classical concept of education, and thus our entire education system, must be oriented towards new goals of sustainable development and redesigned to be fit for the future.

SDG 4 Targets:*

4.1 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and Goal-4 effective learning outcomes.

4.2 By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and preprimary education so that they are ready for primary education.

4.3 By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.

4.4 By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship.

4.5 By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations.

4.6 By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy.

4.7 By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.

4.a Build and upgrade education facilities that are child, disability and gender sensitive and provide safe, nonviolent, inclusive and effective learning environments for all.

4.b By 2020, substantially expand globally the number of scholarships available to developing countries, in particular least developed countries, small island developing States and African countries, for enrolment in higher education, including vocational training and information and communications technology, technical, engineering and scientific programmes, in developed countries and other developing countries.

4.c By 2030, substantially increase the supply of qualified teachers, including through international cooperation for teacher training in developing countries, especially least developed countries and small island developing states.

*The targets in italics will be scientifically examined by the UniNEtZ and options to fulfill this target by 2030 will be developed. Target 4.2 will not be considered, as the UniNEtZ has no expertise in this area.

The targets are processed by the following universities and partners:
Alpen-Adria-University Klagenfurt, Danube University Krems, forum n (students), Hochschulbildung Global, Land Niederösterreich, Leopold-Franzens University Innsbruck, Medical University Graz, University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, Österreichischer Austauschdienst, University of Applied Arts Vienna, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna

Situation in Austria

Recent reports show the positive developments of Quality Education in Austria in recent years. There is no doubt that positive trends in the Austrian education landscape are to be welcomed. However, it must be noted that there is still considerable potential for development in many areas, which will be briefly outlined below:

  • Education experts agree that sustainable, transformative education is particularly relevant for Austria and that there is a great need to catch up in this respect.
  • As the National Education Report 2018 states, equal opportunities and participatory justice in Austria are anything but assured. The Austrian educational landscape is characterised by high educational disparities.
  • In international comparison, Austria has a relatively high degree of social reproduction of educational inequalities.
  • In general, Austria is still found to have inadequate scientific monitoring of educational processes and educational cooperation of all kinds.
  • Target 4b and 4c provide for the expansion of international cooperation and support for developing countries in the field of education. There is an urgent need for action at the Austrian level in both areas.

In summary, it can be stated that the current situation is characterised by the fact that there is still considerable potential for improvement in many areas. A critical look at the analysis of the Austrian education landscape is indispensable and once again shows the relevance and urgency of implementing SDG 4 in Austria.

Option list

(based on the options report to be published)

The options elaborated by the SDG groups are to serve as a means of communicating to the federal government which concrete options can be set by Austria in order to implement the 2030 Agenda with its 17 Sustainable Development Goals. The options report will be published on 02.12.2021.

  • Option 4.1: Establish and strengthen the implementation of systemic learning cultures, learning methods and learning objectives
  • Option 4.2: Embedding “aesthetic education” all areas of the education system
  • Option 4.3: Anchoring of Education for Sustainable Development in the inter-Länder educational framework for elementary educational institutions in Austria
  • Option 4.4: Anchoring concepts of Education for Sustainable Development in the initial, further and continuing training of teachers in elementary education
  • Option 4.5: Teacher training for sustainable development
  • Option 4.6: Creation of project-oriented spaces for action and reflection for work on real-world case studies in the context of sustainable development
  • Option 4.7: Establishment or further development of framework conditions (school autonomy, support systems and networks) for the establishment of a democratic, participatory culture in Austrian schools for the promotion of peace and sustainable development
  • Option 4.8: Digitisation and sustainability - educational concepts for sustainable development in the digital age
  • Option 4.9: Develop and implement participatory sustainability strategies at all higher education institutions
  • Option 4.10: Anchor educational concepts for sustainability in all curricula at universities and higher education institutions
  • Option 4.11: Establish ESD continuing education programmes for university teachers at universities and higher education institutions
  • Option 4.12: Stronger promotion and adequate support as well as increased visibility of adult education in the context of sustainability
  • Option 4.13: Strengthening active civil society engagement, critical thinking and solidarity for sustainable development through a) civic education and b) ESD, global citizenship education and other approaches
  • Option 4.14: Systematic promotion of subject-specific competences for shaping sustainable development in each teaching subject
  • Option 4.15: Multiplication of education for sustainable development
  • Option 4.16: Transdisciplinary education - collaborative responsible learning between students, teachers and non-school actors
  • Option 4.17: MINDfulness (for) SUSTAINABILITY
  • Option 4.18: Developing a democratic school culture at the organisational, teaching and interpersonal levels
  • Option 4.19: Strengthening of artistic, creative and musical education in elementary and primary education as well as in secondary education 1 and 2
  • Option 4.20: Integrate movement and learning through movement as a complementary form of traditional learning at all levels of education



BNE Online Academy on Climate Protection and Circular Economy

  • Location: Online
  • Date: 17.11.2023

Under the motto "Re:create our future - Education for a climate-friendly society", the BNE Online Academy 2023 will provide creative impulses on how the future can be rethought and shaped through education. Due to limited places, registration is requested at event.umweltbildung.at.


Symposium Radical University

  • Location: Vienna
  • Date: 06. – 07.06.2023

The symposium negotiates the future of education in times of radical change and brings together national and international actors in the discourse on education to develop radical perspectives on the institution of the university. It asks about the society-building power of the university and illuminates interdisciplinarity as well as the dialogue between art and science in the field of tension of social relevance and responsibility.

More information can be found here.