Goal 4: Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

In many developing countries, public schools alone are insufficient to ensure the inclusiveness of education services needed to reach the targets included in SDG 4. In many countries, MSMEs conducting business in the education sector could provide complementary education services, expanding the access to educational services to the general public. MSMEs could contribute to achieving SDG 4 by expanding inclusive access to education services and improving skills of youth and women for obtaining decent jobs. MSMEs often play a role in the technical and vocational education and training sector through offering work-based learning programmes like apprenticeships. In some areas, MSMEs can be a key provider of education services such as private schools or tutoring centres.31

While also acting as providers of education in underserved areas, MSMEs also stand to benefit significantly from steps toward achieving SDG 4. As a key source of employment for many poor people across the region, MSMEs draw their talent from a pool that receives patchy access to high quality education. By further improving the reach of education at all levels, but particularly to the disadvantaged, MSMEs will have access to higher skilled and more adaptable workers.

Policy measures to support Goal 4:

  • Support MSMEs to adopt and create apprentice, career education, internships, work-based learning and programmes that give students earlier access to business environments.32
  • Provide employees with continuous learning opportunities to improve their skills for their current and future employment.33 This may be achieved by mobilizing international, private, or government funds.

31 OECD (2018), Development Cooperation Report 2018: Joining Forces to Leave No One Behind, Paris.

32 Blue Orchard Academy (2017). SMEs and SDGs: Supporting Small and Medium Enterprises to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals – Insights from a Blue Orchard Survey.

33 Edwards, C. (2018). UN's Sustainable Development Goals for Small Businesses.