“We cannot have young people growing up without the knowledge, skills and attitudes to be productive members of our society. Our societies cannot afford it. And neither can business. Business needs a creative, skilled, innovative workforce. … And investing in education creates a generation of skilled people who will have rising incomes and demands for products and services – creating new markets and new opportunities for growth… Corporate philanthropy is critical, but we need more companies to think about how their business policies and practices can impact education priorities. You understand investment. You focus on the bottom-line. You know the dividends of education for all.”

Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

The facts

Since 2000, there has been enormous progress in achieving the target of universal primary education. Enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91% in 2015 and the worldwide number of children out of school has dropped by almost half. However, more than half of children and adolescents worldwide are not meeting minimum proficiency standards in reading and mathematics. Especially in sub-Saharan Africa (41%), Northern Africa and Western Asia (52%), the participation rate in early childhood and primary education is low. A report from 2016 shows that in the least developed countries, only 34% of primary schools had electricity and less than 40% were equipped with basic handwashing facilities (SDG Goals Report, 2018).

The focus of SDG 4

The aim of sustainable development goal 4 (SDG 4) is to achieve inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. Achieving this reaffirms the belief that education is one of the most powerful and proven vehicles for sustainable development. This goal ensures that all girls and boys complete free primary and secondary schooling by 2030. It also aims to provide equal access to affordable vocational training, to eliminate gender and wealth disparities, and achieve universal access to a quality higher education (UNDP, 2019).

While education is the focus of SDG 4, it is closely interlinked with all the other SDGs and plays a crucial role in supporting their implementation.  Evidence shows that higher levels of education have a profound effect on improving health outcomes (SDG 3). Providing quality education also opens the door to future job opportunities which can help reduce inequalities (SDG 5 and 10), alleviate poverty (SDG 1), drive economic growth (SDG 8), allow individuals to access basic amenities such as nutrition and sanitation (SDG 2 and 6), and contribute to building a more peaceful society (SDG 16) (UN Global Compact, 2019).

La Trobe Business School and SDG 4

La Trobe University was founded half a century ago to broaden participation in higher education and has done so for many thousands of students who would otherwise have been excluded from the opportunities provided by a quality university education.

Aligning with targets to achieve SDG 4, La Trobe Business School and the University more broadly have significant policies and programs that encourage and support an accessible, inclusive and equitable quality education for disadvantaged and vulnerable populations including people with disabilities, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, first in family, out-of-home care backgrounds (care leavers), refugee children and disadvantaged children from regional and rural areas. It is also significant to note that almost 50% of La Trobe Business School students are from a first in family background.

Thus, the La Trobe University motto “Qui cherche trouve” (Whoever seeks shall find) remains as relevant today in terms of accessibility to a high-quality tertiary education.

CR3+ network

The development of the videos on the 17 sustainable development goals, showcased in this blog series, was a collaborative effort between LBS and three other business schools from around the world, or the CR3+ network.  This CR3+ partnership is another way in which LBS is demonstrating its commitment to SDG 4. Namely, building our international networks and focusing on SDG 4 on a global scale through our research, teaching and outreach activities as part of the CR3+ network.

SDG Video

The fourth video is created by our CR3+ partner ISAE Brazilian Business School (ISAE). The video features Maria Gloss, director of Education and Culture Sector of the Hospital Pequeno Príncipe talking about education being the “raw material of life” and what education means to children in a hospital environment. The video also features Maria Silva, secretary of education of the municipality of Curitiba, the largest city in the Brazilian state of Paraná. Maria talks about some of the 206 actions, programs and projects the municipality is involved with and their connection to SDG 4.

Please enjoy the presentation:



This blog is part of the SDG Series, a series that focuses on the 17 Sustainable Development Goals set by the United Nations, in the lead up to the CR3+ Conference in October 2019. More blogs in the SDG Series:
- An introduction to the Sustainable Development Goals
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 1
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 2
- SDG Series: Sustainable Development Goal 3