Achieving SDG 4, Equitable Quality Education after COVID-19: Global Evidence and a Case Study of Kazakhstan

Naureen Durrani, Gulmira Qanay, Ghazala Mir, Janet Helmer, Filiz Polat, Assel Temirbekova, Nazerke Karimova

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This study investigates the impact of two years of emergency distance schooling on achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4—equitable quality education, both globally and in Kazakhstan. The study used a qualitative research design. Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with 30 teachers and 30 parents, while focus group discussions (FGDs) were utilised to gather the perspective of 28 students. The conceptual framework developed puts effective pedagogy at the heart of quality distance education, nested within four supportive factors—digital infrastructure; policy guidelines about pedagogy; curriculum and assessments; professional development in digital pedagogy; and the home environment. The study found that distance schooling in Kazakhstan has undermined progress on SDG 4 and worsened inequalities in access to quality education despite the distribution of digital devices to disadvantaged children and teachers. While mainstream public school teachers transitioned to distance school without any systematic preparation, provision of digital resources or clear policy guidelines, schoolteachers at elite public institutions received meticulous guidance and support. Despite later receiving professional development in digital pedagogy and access to digital resources and platforms, public school teachers in rural and deprived urban areas still faced challenges due to fragmented internet connectivity. This limited interactive and communicative pedagogy, particularly in rural and public schools, and hindered teachers’ ability to assess the impact of their teaching on student outcomes. Policy initiatives failed to mitigate disadvantages in the home environment for low-income families, parents with limited education and working parents, especially mothers, who primarily supported homeschooling. Recommendations are offered for adapting education provision and envisioning more robust education quality to achieve SDG 4 and address historical inequities in a post-pandemic world.
Original languageEnglish
Article number 14725
Pages (from-to)1
Number of pages23
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 11 2023


  • Sustainable Development Goal 4; intersectional disadvantage; Kazakhstan; pedagogy; quality; distance educatio


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