Because education is not just one of many priorities but the essence of a society, because it is the path to all the other Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is essential to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. To work towards education for all is to wage a war against ignorance, against fear and disintegration … As education is the best lasting answer to the main problems our generation and our world are facing. But millions of children of school age around the world are out of school: 58 million do not attend primary school and 63 million are deprived of secondary education. Even though disparities are shrinking, girls are more concerned than boys. Much remains to be done to achieve the goal of education for all!

This is why access to education for all was at the heart of debates at the Convergences World Forum.

We have to care about the planet we leave to our children, but it is also urgent to take an interest in the children we leave to the planet

Marc Vanesson

Vers le Haut

Education, a key issue for achieving all the SDGs

Long before the formalization of the SDGs, education was considered necessary for development in its basic conception: to know how to read and write, to acquire the skills of everyday life, to solve everyday problems but also to develop employment and insertion, and, as a parent, to ensure the health and development of children. SDG 4 is today an ambitious goal which is a pre-condition for the achievement of the entire Agenda 2030 and in particular (as explicitly stated in their description) access to health for all (SDG 3), gender equality (SDG 5), decent work and shared growth (SDG 8), sustainable consumption and production (SDG 12) and the fight against climate change (SDG 13).

Yet today only one in four countries achieves the targets in terms of percentage of GDP to be allocated to education (including the so-called developed countries).

Education literally saves lives

Anna Cristina d'Addio


Beyond formal education by 2030, it is also about “ensuring that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development 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”(Target 4.7).

Focus on the MOOC Sustainable Development Goals

The issue of awareness and communication around Sustainable Development Goals is a prerequisite and a condition for success in the development of transformative actions.

This MOOC (massive online open course) developed by the Virtual University Environment and Sustainable Development (UVED) responds to this issue, while only 6% of French people know what the SDGs are. Education for the SDGs can be a powerful lever to change this state of affairs, to enable the ownership of these issues by all components of society and the sharing of a common vision. The aim here is to help create an environment in the long term conducive to partnerships based on a transformative ambition.

Find out more about the UVED’s SDG MOOC here. (in French)

If a girl is educated, she manages to be able to take good care of her family and participate in a good education for her children so it becomes an asset to increase the development and economic growth of the country

Marie-Augustine Dieme

Defender of girls' rights in Senegal

How to support access to quality education for all and innovate?

By nature, education projects are therefore multisectoral & multi-stakeholder. Education is not a prerogative of teachers but a right for all and it is necessary to include all actors, including media that can change the imagination of certain sectors and promote, for example, inclusion (girls, disabled people).

When a person in charge of a big TV channel fights every day so that the young people watch TV, and when once at home he fights so that his own children do not watch it … There is clearly a problem of coherence …

Marc Vanesson

Vers le haut

Beyond the visible and the quantitative, it is important to be interested in the quality of the education provided. While in Africa, there has been a great increase in access and schooling in recent years, more refined measures have shown that a large proportion of pupils leaving primary schools did not have basic skills and that 50% do not reach secondary school. The educational offer must be adapted to the context. It is about taking formal and non-formal education into account and of being part of a local context, building on local capacity building – education is not limited to the school setting or public school recognized by the State and the support must really target capacity building for the teachers.

We tend to want to duplicate other education systems that do not meet the demands of households. We must not export our educational model. It must be part of a national or even regional context

Rohen d'Aiglepierre

Agence Française de Développement (AFD)

When we talk about reading, we talk about individual and differentiated learning for each child. Learning to read is one of the most difficult things because it is not a planned act like eating or walking. Learning to read involves many skills that can be difficult to acquire. This is why support for children in their learning is often necessary. They need both pedagogical support from teachers, family support from parents but also support from the whole community, especially in some African countries where it plays an important role in everyday life. To be able to read is also an act of freedom for every individual: to read is to be able to enter the thought and the imaginary of the other. It is a way to grow.

World Vision has developed the “Unlock Literacy” model, a program for learning to read, rooted in basic research that accompanies teachers, parents and the child community. The Unlock Literacy project is being implemented in 52 countries for the primary school cycle, but also in communities. This model is based on research that demonstrates that learning to read is complex: it is a cognitive, social and cultural activity. The development of reading is multi-contextual: children develop reading skills at school but also at home and in the community in general. Because of this, raising parents’ awareness on the importance of education and training to accompanying skills of their children is essential. In the Unlock Literacy project, three environments are considered essential for learning to read: the family, the school, and the community at large. Between 2012 and 2017, the program was able to improve the literacy rate by nearly 1.7 million children by training 83,000 teachers, opening 6,000 reading clubs and publishing 4 million books.

The family sphere is essential for learning to read, but this dimension is rarely taken into account in major educational reflections. It is often considered that education is only school-based, but the role of parents is also essential, though all too often neglected.

An American study of Hart and Risley, “30 million words”, measures the number of words heard by children every day. The researchers found that between a 4-year-old child raised in an affluent environment and a child of the same age raised in a more disadvantaged environment, there is a difference of 30 million words heard. In a well-off family, children hear 32 assertions per hour. In a more disadvantaged family, they hear 5 assertions and 11 bans per hour. It is therefore clear that the family environment is essential for the control of vocabulary.

A PISA survey on parenting practices also showed that 2 practices are linked to very good results in language proficiency at age 15: reading stories in primary school, and showing involvement in the child’s schooling.

In France, we often talk about socio-economic criteria to explain the level of study. Yet that is not everything. 63% of the children of teachers complete three years of higher education while this rate is 52% for the children of executives. There are many parenting practices that are critical to children’s success and are not part of the school setting. Yet these parenting skills are largely unknown, especially by the parents themselves. For example, talking and reading aloud to children from an early age is very important.

In our public policies, pre-schooling issues are put forward, which is indeed important. But this is not enough: it is important to invest in early childhood education, particularly by reinforcing parenting skills, which are a real lever for equal opportunities (James Heckman, Nobel Prize for Economics). This dimension is often neglected in our public policies. There are a lot of devices, whether in Southern countries or in Europe / America, set up to strengthen parenting skills. In the French case, we can for example quote the parents kit proposed in the Academy of Créteil to make workshops with the parents and the teachers, in a collaborative logic. This system has had a very strong impact in the fight against absenteeism.

Parent training is a key issue and it is a relatively inexpensive investment. Conversely, when families fail, this poses many problems for the public powers in the long run. This work with parents is a crucial issue that teachers are poorly trained. It is a lever of educational public policies that is underdeveloped today and in great need of strengthening.


We create a youth that lacks self-confidence, who does not know each other well, in an ever more anxiety-provoking societal context. It is crucial to introduce and generalize, from kindergarden to post grad, courses of self-confidence and emotions management

Ericka Cogne

Institut Télémaque

What levers for girls’ education?

Today 9 million girls around the globe (4 out of 10) get married before the age of 18. Six of the 10 countries with the highest child marriage rates are in West Africa. Early marriage is the main reason for the lack of access to education for girls in this region of the world. Behind this reality, there are very complex brakes that require a multi-dimensional approach – on health, legal, school, political or community – as we know today a girl who studies in secondary school has 5% less chances in getting married.

246 million children worldwide, that to say 20%, are victims of school violence in primary and secondary schools. School should no longer be a place of insecurity for children, especially for girls


Michelle Perrot

Plan France

What funding for access to quality education for all?

Though education is a crucial, the mobilization of funding is relatively weak today. Approximately $5 / child / year is spent in sub-Saharan Africa for education. This is financed mainly by the states themselves (17% of GDP on average) and by households (43% of their income). Only 2% of international humanitarian funding goes to education, which is the first service mentioned among the needs (source: PLAN international study). The role and investment of the private sector in education, especially in developing countries, is currently the subject of much debate, especially since this investment is correlated with the State’s disengagement from investing in education: the question of the role and the place of the State arises to guarantee the access of the most vulnerable to the education system.

Towards an educational responsibility of companies: which territorial partnerships?

At the heart of the debate, the “educational CSR”: what is the role of companies in education and training, and how should this role be valued? Education today appears as the “forgotten cause” in CSR; yet, many surveys show that young people are primarily looking for companies to train them for tomorrow’s jobs and to integrate young people into companies. On the question of the role of the company, a consensus quickly emerged in the discussions at the Forum: we must open to young people, as soon as possible, the world of work, the world of business, and motivate them to be actors of their professional future. This discovery of the professional world is done through sponsorships, open days, not limited to the secondary school internship. The company therefore has a role to play with young people to compensate for the limitations of the education system, and to correct contemporary ambivalences: elitism, obsession with diplomas and paths to success. Internally, also, companies must work for the employability of its employees by promoting changes and continuous training for its employees, particularly in soft skills. The school, for its part, must enhance the value of professional courses. Companies can therefore contribute to education through several channels: as a supplier of goods and services, as an employer, and as a partner in the general interest (skills sponsorship, dissemination of knowledge).

School-business relationships already exist in France in many schools and are intended to be strengthened at local and national level

Frédérique Weixler

French Ministry of Education


  • Anna Cristina d’Addio, Rapport Mondial de suivi sur l’éducation – UNESCO | Global Education Rohen d’Aiglepierre, Agence Française de Développement (AFD)
  • Fanny Benedetti, Ministère de l’Europe et des Affaires étrangères (MEAE) | French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs
  • Sandra Boisseau, Humanité & Inclusion
  • Céline Calvez, Assemblée Nationale | French National Assembly
  • Rita Chalhoub, Vision du Monde
  • Alain Chauveau, Fondation Agir Contre l’Exclusion – Fondation FACE Gervanne Leridon, African Artist for Development (AAD)
  • Ericka Cogne, Institut Télémaque
  • Marie-Augustine Dieme, CONAFE
  • Angélique Figari, Ashoka
  • Stéphane de Freitas, Indigo
  • Suzanne Grant Lewis, UNESCO
  • Judith Grumbach, Réalisatrice
  • Céline Liegent, STEF
  • Joseph Nzaly, Unlock Literacy
  • Michelle Perrot, Plan International France
  • Hugo Petitjean, Seek Development
  • Delphine Pommeray, UVED
  • Delphine Saulière d’Izarny, Bayard Pesse
  • Ramatou Touré-Merlo, Bureau régional d’Afrique du Centre et de l’Ouest, Unicef | UNICEF in West and Central Africa
  • Louise Tourret,
  • Sarah Vanbremeersch, Impact Campus
  • Marc Vanesson, Vers le Haut
  • Frédéric Vuillod, Médiatico
  • Frédérique Weixler, Ministère de l’Éducation nationale