Abstract

This paper presents an examination of the education Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 4) through the lens of race. It argues, at this mid-way point of the SDGs, that race continues to be erased, acting as an absent presence, in global educational policy, practice and goals. To address this, the paper calls for a radical review of contemporary development discourse such that the SDGs, and in particular SDG 4, are framed in ways that acknowledge histories of colonial exploitation and epistemic violence. Acknowledging these histories and their reproduction in the Western-led development project, the paper advocates for reparative redress. It argues for the re-orientation of SDG 4 in the interests of racial justice in education by calling for the material redistribution of resources, challenging the hegemony of the Western episteme in curriculum and languages of instruction, holding international agencies and governments to account and reforming the governance of SDG 4 in ways that prioritise racial justice. The paper takes the position that while education has been detrimentally implicated in the Western colonial and development project, it has a key role to play in challenging racist systems as the global community looks towards the 2030 Agenda and beyond.

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