Target 4.3: Technical, vocational, tertiary and adult education

By 2030, ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable and quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university

Chapter 10 PDF

CREDIT: Antoine Tardy/UNHCR. Ala (centre), 22, fled Daraa, the Syrian Arab Republic, in March 2013 with her family. They settled in Zaatari camp, Jordan.

Key Messages

  • The new definition on adult participation in education and training covers formal and non-formal provision, as well as work and non-work-related opportunities.
  • Questions in labour force surveys need to be standardized: addressing all youth and adults, not just the employed; employing a common reference period of the previous 12 months; and extending the scope beyond technical and vocational training.
  • In middle income countries low annual participation rates in adult work-related education and training may be the norm. In Egypt, annual participation among skilled workers was 4%.
  • The tertiary education gross enrolment ratio reached 38% in 2017; it exceeded 50% in upper middle countries for the first time in 2016.
  • Tertiary education is least affordable in sub-Saharan Africa, where it exceeds 60% of average national income in most countries.
  • In several middle income countries, the richest households are more likely to report receiving a scholarship. Countries that successfully targeted the poor included Colombia, which made loan terms more favourable for poor students, and Viet Nam which provides aid to ethnic minority students.
  • Higher education for refugees increases their chances of employment and provides motivation to remain in school. A number of laudable initiatives exist, some involving the community, but only 1% of refugees participate in tertiary education.
  • If migrants and refugees lack access to employment or decent jobs, they are unlikely to invest in developing their technical and vocational skills. Planners can help by recognizing prior non-formal and informal learning and providing career guidance to ease entry into labour markets.

The global indicator on adult education participation has been refined to capture all formal and non-formal education opportunities, whether or not work-related. The diversity and number of providers make labour force surveys preferable to administrative data as a source, yet questions in these surveys vary considerably among countries, and few questions are compatible with the updated indicator definition. Standardizing questions to expand the number of countries with comparable data will not be easy.

The EU Labour Force Survey focuses on formal education and training in the previous 4 weeks (vs the indicator’s 12 months). Participation rates remain stable, on average, at 11%, although trends vary by country (Figure 9). Integrated Labour Market Surveys in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia are limited to employed people, lifetime participation and work-related TVET. They suggest annual training participation rates of up to 4% among employees with technical skills.

Figure 9: Participation in adult education in Europe has remained stable, but trends vary by country

The tertiary gross enrolment ratio reached 38% in 2017, but the share of private expenditure in the total cost of higher education is increasing. Financial assistance in the form of student loans, grants, subsidies and scholarships means tertiary education is generally most affordable in Europe and least affordable in sub-Saharan Africa, where its cost exceeds 60% of average national income in most countries and reaches almost 300% in Guinea and Uganda.

Most education systems aim at targeted financial support, but the effectiveness of targeting varies substantially. World Bank data show that, in several low and middle income countries, households in the poorest quintile were less likely to receive a government scholarship than those in the richest quintile. Comprehensive policy packages including various approaches, as in Colombia and Viet Nam, may be more successful than scholarships alone.

Labour force surveys are a preferable source to administrative data to measure adult education given the diversity and number of providers

Previous Year’s Target 4.3