Do you have a good memory? Now is the time to test it!


In this activity participants have to locate and match pairs of cards as they think out about the inequalities of educational provision world-wide and how to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4: quality education for all.


Related rights
  • The right to education
  • The right to full physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development
  • The right to equality

• To build up knowledge about education and how it touches on all spheres of life
• To develop memory skills and skills of critical analysis
• To encourage responsibility and a sense of human dignity and justice


• 1 set of the game cards for every three or four participants
• Paper and pens for notes in part 2

  • Familiarise yourself with all the cards.
  • Familiarise yourself with Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 and its targets (see background chapter on Education)
  • Copy the sheets of game cards and back them with the stiff paper to make the cards more durable. Cut out the 40 cards
Key Date
  • 8 SeptemberInternational Literacy Day


Ask participants what they know about the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). If necessary, explain briefly about the SDGs and explain that SDG 4 is to ensure quality education for all by 2030.

Explain that the activity is divided into two parts: part 1, the memory game and part 2, reporting on the issues.

Part 1. The memory game (10 minutes)

  1. Explain that there are twenty pairs of cards. Each pair comprises a topic card and a picture card, and the task is to match the two. The statements on the topic cards all relate to issues concerning SDG 4 and human rights and education. The questions (in italics) are for discussion later.
  2. Ask if participants know a game called Concentration, Memory, Pelmanism or Pairs because this is what they are going to play in small groups of four. Review the rules: they spread the cards face down on the floor or on the table. One person starts and turns over two cards. If one (or both) of the cards is a topic card, then the player reads aloud the heading and the statement (not the question in italics – that is for part 2!). If the cards do not match, then s/he turns them back over so that they lie face down again on the floor in exactly the same spot as they were before. The next player then takes a turn to pick up two cards. The game ends when all the cards have been picked up. The winner is the player who holds the most pairs.

Part 2. Reporting the issues (60 minutes)
1. Make a list of the issues on a flipchart. Ask for volunteers to read out the headings on the cards while you write them down.
2. Ask the group to identify four to six issues which interest them most.
3. Divide the group into sub-groups of 4 or 5 people. Ask each sub-group to pick two of the issues they would most like to discuss.
4. When the issues have been agreed and allocated, give the groups 20 minutes to discuss their two chosen issues. The starting point for the discussions should be the question printed in italics in the cards.
5. After 20 minutes, call people into plenary for reporting back. Take each issue in turn. Give each group just 5 minutes to feed back and allow no more than an extra 5 minutes for questions from the floor.
6. After all the groups have reported on all the issues, move to the debriefing.

Debriefing and evaluationGoto top

You will have already had a good opportunity to discuss the issues, so now go on to evaluate the game itself and what people learned:

  • Did the participants enjoy the memory game?
  • Was it a good way to start a discussion on the issues of education?
  • How did the discussions in the groups go? Did everyone feel that they could participate?
  • Article 26 of the UDHR is the right to Education. What should this right entail in practice?
  • Are there too many challenges facing education? Is it realistic to meet the goal of ensuring inclusive and equitable quality education and life-long learning opportunities for all by 2030?
  • Why do you think education is one of the Sustainable Development Goals?
  • What are the main challenges to the right to education in your country, community or school?
  • What can you, your group, your community do to work towards achieving the SDG 4 in in your country and/or in developing countries?
  • Is there a danger that the right to human rights education gets “forgotten” when there is such a great need to focus literacy and numeracy and on technical and vocational skills? If so, what could be done about it?

Tips for facilitatorsGoto top

The intention in using this technique is to bring an ingredient of fun to the process of gaining information which will be needed for the discussion.

This is a fairly simple activity to facilitate. Be sure that you have read all the cards before you do the activity and which card matches with which issue so that during the game you can offer guidance and verify that pairs are correct. When explaining how to play the game, you may like to demonstrate the instructions by showing what one of the pairs looks like. Point out the difference between the statement and the question.

You can tell people that the game is called “Memory” because people have to memorise where the different cards lie in order to be able to pick up matching pairs.

In part 2, you may like to organise it so that two different groups discuss the same issue. Doing this will most likely generate more ideas. It will mean that the subgroups will have to do some negotiating about which issues to discuss.

You will have to decide at what point in the activity to give the group the detailed information about the SDG 4 targets. When and how you do this will depend on the group and the time available. It could be when you introduce the activity or in the debriefing. You may wish to summarise the targets to get a better overview.

When you photocopy the cards it is a good idea to enlarge them to make them easier to read. If you then stick the sheets onto stiff paper it will make the finished cards more durable and easier to handle.

Some of the cards contain acronyms, for instance HRE (human rights education). Make sure that when you introduce the game you explain what these letters stand for.

Note that one-third of the cards contain statements relating to the Sustainable Development Goal 4 accepted by the UN in 2015. The rest of the cards are on human rights and education issues, or on issues that have to be addressed in order to achieve quality education for all.

VariationsGoto top

If there is not enough time to do part 2, you could use the technique described in the activity "Just a minute" instead. Ask each participant to choose one of the issues on the cards they picked up, and to speak about it for one minute without hesitation or repetition. This is also a good option if you feel that the participants need to improve their oral presentation skills.

In part 2, you can save some time by preparing in advance a set of very enlarged picture cards on which you have written the related headings. Then, instead of writing the summaries, you can stick these cards up. It will save you time and look attractive.

Suggestions for follow-upGoto top

Several issues which come up in the memory game can be pursued in other activities. For instance, if you want to explore the issue of budgets for education and other social needs with the budget spent on militarisation, you can do the activity "How much do we need". Issues relating to child labour and lack of access to education can be explored in the activity "Ashique's story".

Ideas for actionGoto top

The memory cards show numerous problems which hamper the possibility of achieving quality education for all by 2030. The group could choose any one of the problems to research, to find ideas for how to meet the targets and finally to take action. Refer to chapter 3 on Taking Action for tips about how to go about this.

Why not write letters to Members of your Parliament enquiring about what your country is doing in order to meet the targets set in SDG 4.


Further informationGoto top

The right to education is stated in Article 26 of the UDHR. However, while there is a general acceptance and commitment by states to offer free basic education to all, the reality is that free education is not for all, but for a minority. Sustainable Development Goal target 4.1 is most recent of the UN's initiatives to deliver that right to everyone.

There have been other initiatives to promote education world-wide the past.  Education for All was laid out at the World Conference on Education for All  in Jomtien, Thailand, in 1990. Then, in the year 2000, the international community gathered in Dakar, Senegal, for a World Education Forum (WEF) to review the progress made on providing basic education, and to reinvigorate the commitment to Education for All. Some 1100 participants from 164 countries adopted the Dakar Framework for Action, committing themselves to achieving quality basic education for all by 2015. UNESCO was entrusted with the overall responsibility for co-ordinating all the international players and for sustaining the global momentum.
It was acknowledged that different countries face different challenges. For instance, some countries face lack of resources, while others lack the political will. One of the results of the meeting was the acknowledgement that in order to reach and sustain the goals and targets of Education for All, it is necessary to establish broad-based partnerships within countries, supported by co-operation with regional and international agencies and institutions.
During this meeting the fundamental importance of education for sustainable development, peace, the effective participation of society and for sound economies in the twenty-first century was highlighted. A commendable result of the WEF was the setting of specific goals, with specific time limits, as well as the description of actions that must be taken at all levels in order to achieve Education for All. Whether these goals will be reached and the actions carried out is a question that can only be answered if everyone at every level of society is aware of and fights for Education for All.


UNESCO Education for All: World Education Forum Final Report, 2000.

The WEF initiative coincided with the adoption by the UN of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to be achieved by 2015. Of the 8 MDGs, two related to education: goal 2, achieve universal primary education and goal 3, promote gender equality and empower women.

For more information about Education for All see; for the MDGs see and for information about international policies and cooperation in education and training, see

In 2015 the UN General Assembly formally accepted the SDGs to succeed the Millennium Development Goals. (For general information about the SDGs see the Further information section after the activity, How much do we need? and Sustainable Development Goal 4 is about quality education. The goals is by 2030 to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. SDG 4 has seven targets:

1 . By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes 

2. By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys have access to quality early childhood development, care and pre-primary education so that they are ready for primary education

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

4. By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship

5. By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations 

6. By 2030, ensure that all youth and a substantial proportion of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy

7. By 2030, ensure that all learners acquire the 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 


You can read more on the following sites:

HandoutsGoto top

PDFDownload as PDF


Money & Education
Without money governments cannot meet their commitments. It is also a question of  standards; poorly paid teachers and lack of materials jeopardise the quality of education. No money, no education! Do you agree?
Gender equality & Education

Many countries have made huge strides towards the goal of gender equality. However, in some countries, women and girls are forbidden from attending school.

Do you think this undermines the credibility of SDG 4?

Food & Education

Food for Education (FFE) programmes provide school meals and/or take-home rations to ensure that poor children are healthy and able to learn.

Are FFE programmes the key to meeting the SDG 4 targets?

Education for All

Previous initiatives to ensure primary education for all have fallen short of their targets. Now SDG 4 aims by 2030 ensure quality education and life-long learning opportunities for all.

Is there any value in setting obviously unattainable goals?

Drugs & Education
The use of alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs is a problem in many schools / universities. Abuse prevents pupils from learning and increases violence.

Is a firm school policy on drug abuse the answer?

Military & Education
In many countries a high proportion of the budget is
allocated to military expenditure and not enough is left for the social sector, especially education.

Is security more important than education?

Teachers & Education
Good quality teachers are essential. However, in many developing countries training may be minimal.

Should there be a minimum requirement such as a teaching degree for all school teachers?

Migration & Education
The higher the level of education, the more likely it is that an individual will emigrate. Many doctors, teachers, engineers and IT experts from developing
countries work in Europe.

Is it morally defensible that Europe gains from this brain drain from those countries where these people are really needed?

Free Education

SDG 4.1 by 2030 ensure primary and secondary education is free to all.

Is this really a good idea? Don't people value things more when they have to pay for them? 

Human Rights Education
“Every individual and every organ of society, keeping the UDHR in mind shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms.” UN General Assembly.

Which “organs of society” are the most effective in delivering HRE?

Globalisation & Education
Global value chains force firms in developing countries to specialise in certain functions, for example, the manufacture of garments in factories where little training and education is needed to do the job.

Does globalisation undermine the value of education?

Peace & Education
Education for peace should be part of the formal education curriculum. It is not enough to find it only in non-formal educational settings.

How would you include peace education within the formal curriculum?

The Internet & Education
In many countries, information technology has become a core part of the education process, essential for research and for homework.

If every child in the world had access to a computer, what potential could be unlocked? What
problems could be solved?

Sport & Education
Sport should always be on the school curriculum. It teaches many things that cannot be learnt in other subjects. Sport is essential for the full development
of body and mind.

Do you agree or should other subjects be prioritised, for example technology and skills training?

University (higher and further)

SDG 4.3 by 2030 ensure equal access to affordable technical, vocational and tertiary education.

What measures need to be taken to ensure ”equal access” and ”affordable” in practice?

Social Exclusion & Education
In some European countries, Roma children are automatically put into classes for the mentally disabled, simply because they are Roma. In others, they are shunted into separate and inferior schools or classrooms set aside for Roma.

What is the best way to integrate Roma children into the education system?

Environment & Education

SDG 4.7 by 2030 ensure that all learners acquire the knowledge and skills needed to promote sustainable development.

How would you include education for sustainabilty into the curriculum?

Life-Long Learning

SDG 4.6 by 2030 ensure a substantial proportion of adults achieve literacy and numeracy.

Is it reasonable to put money into adult literacy programmes rather than investing in the future by putting it into basic education?

Discipline & Education
Schools in different countries use different means to ensure discipline. Methods include corporal punishment, suspension,
extra-work, expulsion and participation in a school or college council.

What do you think is the best approach to guarantee discipline?

Aids/HIV & Education
“The first battle to be won in
the war against AIDS is the battle to smash the wall of silence and stigma surrounding it” (Kofi Annan).

What role should educational institutions play in fighting HIV/AIDS?