While committing to 12 years of quality education for every girl by 2030 may seem to overreach the realms of possibility for those at the extreme margins of society, it is undoubtedly a goal worth striving for. There are chiefly three reasons for this:
1. One vision for all children everywhere
When the world came together to agree upon the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in 2015 it faced a choice: to set the level of ambition at a more achievable level of ‘improvement’, or to paint a bold vision for a world we truly want to live in founded on justice and equality. Happily, it opted for the latter, which, in the context of Goal 4, means 12 years of free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education for every child. Clearly, there is nothing equitable about the accident of birth that too often determines a child’s life chances, but there is an imperative that through education we work to correct this by setting our sights on one vision for all children everywhere.
2. Every girl needs more than a basic education
Armed with an education, girls can achieve great things: start businesses, become health professionals, run schools, and lead countries. However, for a girl to fulfil her potential, she must be assured a minimum of 12 years of education. An education of six years, or even nine, is simply not enough. It is not enough to realise the SDGs, nor is it enough for young women to empower themselves with the knowledge and skills they need to make informed decisions and achieve their own goals. Without 12 years of education the path to further education, professional careers, and, in many cases, economic independence is blocked.
3. Growing evidence of what works is making the goal more real
Yet the harsh reality is that the number of years spent in school does not alone translate to transformative outcomes. For girls, and society at large, to reap the rewards, education must also be inclusive and of <>good quality. As the body of evidence about what works in girls’ education continues to grow, the goal of ensuring every girl can go to, stay in, and succeed at school becomes more real. The road is far from paved, but with continued political momentum, financial investment and coordinated effort, progress towards 12 years of quality education for all girls can be accelerated.