As the UN custodian agency entrusted with monitoring education targets to ensure that SDG 4 is reached in this Decade for Action, we are reaffirming our global commitment towards achieving the 2030 agenda. As part of this Institutional-wide shift to align with global goals, the UIS launches its suite of UIS SDG Core Indicators, which are detailed here. 

To help countries cope with COVID-19 school closure learning losses and regain ground in their education targets, the UIS has mindfully revised the core indicators themselves. In an effort to mitigate learning losses, the grouping and development of the UIS SDG Core Indicators now more closely reflect the layers and priorities that inform the SDG 4 Indicators as endorsed by Member States – i.e. global, thematic, regional and national (in descending order):

  • 12 global indicators for SDG 4
  • 1 global indicator for SDG 1 (on the proportion of total government spending on essential services, including education)
  • 31 thematic indicators for SDG 4 developed by the Technical Cooperation Group (TCG)
  • 2 Education 2030 Framework for Action benchmarks (of which 1 is the global indicator for SDG 1 listed above)
  • A set of indicators for national monitoring

Table 1: UIS SDG core system of education indicators

UIS indicator group Number of indicators
Global SDG indicators 13 (12 for SDG 4, 1 for SDG 1)
Thematic SDG indicators                    31
Flagship contribution (Education 2030 Framework for Action)                     2
Indicators for national monitoring                   TBD

Note: One of the two flagship indicators for the Education 2030 Framework for Action is also a global SDG indicator (1.a.2). The national monitoring indicators that are outside the SDG set will be defined in the last quarter of 2020.

Table 2: Global and thematic indicators for SDGs 1 and 4


Indicator name

Proportion of total government spending on essential services (education, health and social protection)
Proportion of children and young people (a) in grades 2/3; (b) at the end of primary; and (c) at the end of lower secondary achieving at least a minimum proficiency level in (i) reading and (ii) mathematics, by sex
Completion rate (primary education, lower secondary education, upper secondary education)


Gross intake ratio to the last grade (primary education, lower secondary education)


Out-of-school rate (primary education, lower secondary education, upper secondary education)


Percentage of children over-age for grade (primary education, lower secondary education)


Administration of a nationally-representative learning assessment (a) in Grade 2 or 3; (b) at the end of primary education; and (c) at the end of lower secondary education


Number of years of (a) free and (b) compulsory primary and secondary education guaranteed in legal frameworks

Proportion of children aged 24-59 months who are developmentally on track in health, learning and psychosocial well-being, by sex**
Participation rate in organized learning (one year before the official primary entry age), by sex


Percentage of children under 5 years experiencing positive and stimulating home learning environments


Gross early childhood education enrolment ratio in (a) pre-primary education and (b) early childhood educational development


Number of years of (a) free and (b) compulsory pre-primary education guaranteed in legal frameworks

Participation rate of youth and adults in formal and non-formal education and training in the previous 12 months, by sex


Gross enrolment ratio for tertiary education by sex


Participation rate in technical-vocational programmes (15- to 24-year-olds) by sex

Proportion of youth and adults with information and communications technology (ICT) skills, by type of skill


Percentage of youth/adults who have achieved at least a minimum level of proficiency in digital literacy skills*


Youth/adult educational attainment rates by age group and level of education

Parity indices (female/male, rural/urban, bottom/top wealth quintile and others such as disability status, indigenous peoples and conflict-affected, as data become available) for all education indicators on this list that can be disaggregated


Percentage of students in primary education who have their first or home language as language of instruction


Extent to which explicit formula-based policies reallocate education resources to disadvantaged populations*


Education expenditure per student by level of education and source of funding


Percentage of total aid to education allocated to least developed countries

Proportion of population in a given age group achieving at least a fixed level of proficiency in functional (a) literacy and (b) numeracy skills, by sex


Youth/adult literacy rate


Participation rate of illiterate youth/adults in literacy programmes

Extent to which (i) global citizenship education and (ii) education for sustainable development are mainstreamed in (a) national education policies; (b) curricula; (c) teacher education; and (d) student assessment*


Percentage of schools that provide life skills-based HIV and sexuality education


Extent to which the framework on the World Programme on Human Rights Education is implemented nationally (as per the UNGA Resolution 59/113)*


Percentage of students by age group (or education level) showing adequate understanding of issues relating to global citizenship and sustainability


Percentage of students in the final grade of lower secondary education showing proficiency knowledge of environmental science and geoscience


Extent to which national education policies and education sector plans recognize a breadth of skills that needs to be enhanced in national education systems*

Proportion of schools offering basic services, by type of service


Percentage of students experiencing bullying in the last 12 months


Number of attacks on students, personnel and institutions

Volume of official development assistance flows for scholarships by sector and type of study
Proportion of teachers with the minimum required qualifications, by education level**


Pupil-trained teacher ratio by education level


Percentage of teachers qualified according to national standards by education level and type of institution


Pupil-qualified teacher ratio by education level


Average teacher salary relative to other professions requiring a comparable level of qualification*


Teacher attrition rate by education level


Percentage of teachers who received in-service training in the last 12 months by type of training*

Notes: (1) Rows highlighted in blue refer to global indicators.

(2) The UIS reports only the education component of SDG indicator 1.a.2.

* Indicator not included in the September 2020 data release because no data are currently available at the UIS.

** Refinement of the indicator name approved by the Inter-agency and Expert Group on SDG Indicators (IAEG-SDGs) on 13 March and 2 April 2020. Final approval pending the 52nd session of the Statistical Commission in March 2021.


Table 3: Education 2030 Framework for Action endorsed benchmarks

Indicator name

Public expenditure on education as percentage of GDP (allocate at least 4% to 6%)

Public expenditure on education as percentage of total government (public) expenditure (allocate at least 15% to 20%)

Note: The indicator “Public expenditure on education as percentage of total government (public) expenditure” is the same as the education component of SDG indicator 1.a.2.

Non-core indicators will be archived

Indicators that are not among the core education indicators will no longer be produced by the UIS. The UIS website will provide access to historical time series with discontinued indicators. The most recent values for discontinued indicators are those disseminated by the UIS in February 2020. More information and tutorials on how to access archived indicators will be available on the UIS website by the end of September.