This is the first of a series of blogs for the 2019 High Level Political Forum, looking at the different SDGs in focus this year.
Sustainable Development Goal 4 is the first of the SDGs to be explored this year. It focuses on ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and promoting lifelong learning opportunities for all.
For many libraries – not least school and university ones – it is the basis for all of their work, from story time to advanced information literacy. Libraries play a vital role, either within institutions, or in complement to them.
But how to explain this role to policy-makers and others?
Here are three ideas for arguments that you can use to show why libraries are unique in achieving SDG4:
1) Because literacy is a gateway to learning: reading a blog like this, it can be difficult to imagine what it’s like not to be literate. Without literacy, so many means of learning, earning, and accessing information are closed. Libraries have a very strong track record in this area, through supporting literacy (even from the youngest age) and encouraging a love of reading which has proven impacts on overall academic performance.
2) Because learning doesn’t stop when you leave school: while basic education is an essential step, everyone needs to keep on learning throughout their lives. Changes in the wider world may force them to find a new job or adapt to new technologies. Changes in their own lives mean that their needs and priorities change. Libraries provide a place where anyone, at any age, can learn for themselves, and often get involved in or access wider training opportunities.
3) Because spaces matter: the internet has opened up great new possibilities for people to access learning, with new content and applications developed all the time. Yet it is undeniable that people also benefit from having dedicated spaces and staff to help them develop new skills. Libraries are ideal spaces for this, given their historic focus on popular education, and their familiarity to communities.
For more see the chapter on SDG4 in the 2019 Development and Access to Information Report (DA2I) by Dr Katarina Popovic, Secretary-General of the International Council on Adult Education (ICAE).