In today’s world, there is a growing sense that the real purpose of education is not only to produce learners who are literate and numerate.


Some people refer to these as “21st century”, “transferable” or “socio-emotional” skills. Through ongoing research undertaken by the Education Research Institutes Network in the Asia-Pacific (ERI-Net), UNESCO’s Asia and Pacific Regional Bureau for Education (UNESCO Bangkok) adopted the term “transversal competencies” to refer to these skills and competencies.

The idea that education should contribute to such outcomes is not new. What is notable now is the policy importance that countries across the socioeconomic spectrum have placed upon orienting their education systems to develop these competencies in their students. The idea is even enshrined in the Sustainable Development Goal 4/Education 2030 agenda, notably in its Target 4.7, which commits the international community to “By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development, including, among others, through education for sustainable development and sustainable lifestyles, human rights, gender equality, promotion of a culture of peace and non-violence, global citizenship and appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development.”

Support links: