Sustainable Development Goal 4: Quality education

Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4Footnote 1 aims to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning. Education:

  • enables upward socioeconomic mobility
  • is a key to escaping poverty
  • helps reduce inequalities and reach gender equality
  • is crucial to fostering tolerance and more peaceful societies
  • has a direct impact on the realization of all human rights
  • is a primary driver of progress across all 17 SDGs

Ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all are essential for Canada’s economic and social prosperity, and for the well-being of all Canadians.

Canadian ambition under Quality education

Canada’s ambition under this goal is to ensure Canadians have access to inclusive and quality education throughout their lives. Consequently:

  • the proportion of Canadians who complete high school is expected to increase over time
  • more Canadians should obtain a post-secondary degree by 2030 

Canadian Indicator Framework

In collaboration with federal departments and agencies, Statistics Canada has developed the Canadian Indicator Framework (CIF) for the Sustainable Development Goals. The CIF includes 76 indicators specific to Canada, which measure progress using a set of nationally relevant, objective and comprehensive indicators. CIF indicators for SDG 4 are:

  • High school completion rate
  • Postsecondary education attainment rate

What we are doing to support quality education in Canada

The Government of Canada is working with provincial, territorial, and Indigenous partners to build a Canada-wide, community-based Early Learning and Child Care system, so all families have access to high-quality, affordable, flexible and inclusive early learning and child care no matter where they live.

The Government of Canada worked with Indigenous partners to co-develop the Indigenous Early Learning and Child Care Framework. This Framework serves as guide for all actors in the early learning and child care sphere to work towards achieving a shared vision that all Indigenous children have the opportunity to experience high-quality and culturally strong Early Learning and Child Care. The Government of Canada has committed $1.7 billion over 10 years to support early learning and child care programs and services for Indigenous children and families.

The Canada Learning Bond is money that the Government adds to a Registered Education Savings Plan for children from low-income families. This money helps to pay the costs of a child’s full- or part-time studies after high school at apprenticeship programs, CEGEPs, trade schools, colleges or universities.

Through the Canada Student Financial Assistance, the Government of Canada offers student grants and loans to full-time and part-time students. Grants and loans help students pay for their post-secondary education.

In April 2019, the Government of Canada launched a new policy and approach, to support students in First Nations-operated elementary and secondary schools with funding that is comparable to funding in provincial education systems, plus additional funding for language and cultural programming and kindergarten for children age 4 and 5 at First Nations schools. This approach was informed by close work with First Nations between 2016 and 2018.

Following a comprehensive and collaborative review of federal programs supporting Indigenous students who wish to pursue post-secondary education, Budget 2019 announced investments for distinctions-based Indigenous post-secondary education strategies aimed at increasing the access and success of Indigenous students.

The Apprentice loans and grants help apprentices complete their training in a Red Seal trade and for employers to help support the apprentices they hire and train.

The Federal-Provincial-Territorial Protocol for Agreements for Minority-Language Education and Second-Language Instruction supports French education in minority language communities, education in English for English-speaking communities in Quebec as well as second-language instruction for the 2019 and 2020 to the 2022 and 2023 period.

What Canada is doing to support quality education abroad

Canada is a leader in the promotion of girls’ education in conflict and crisis settings. As such, it recently endorsed the G7’s, “Declaration on Girls’ Education: Recovering from COVID-19 and Unlocking Agenda 2030,” and adopted 2 ambitious targets outlined in the declaration to stay on track for achieving the SDGs.

At the 2021 G7 Summit, Canada also announced $300 million over 5 years in funding to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). Canada is a longstanding member of the GPE, the world’s largest multi-stakeholder partnership and fund dedicated to improving education in the world’s poorest countries.

In February 2021, Canada launched a global campaign, Together for Learning, to address the education crisis of refugees and internally displaced children and youth. This included the creation of a Refugee Education Council, hosted by World Vision Canada, and in partnership with the Canadian International Education Policy Working Group. Canada remains committed to ensuring that at least 10 per cent of its international bilateral assistance goes to education.

During its G7 presidency in 2018, Canada mobilized an historic investment of nearly $3.8 billion during the G7 Summit in Charlevoix, which included a commitment of $400 million by Canada for education for women and girls in crisis and conflict situations.

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