Sustainable Development Goal #4: Quality Education



A quote from one of the SDG #4 artists, Arthur Haywood:

"I hope this mural inspires students to dive into the magic of learning and believe in their imagination. This piece is a part of a set of Sustainable Development Goals that practiced in unison will positively influence our future. In collaboration with the mural at Samuel Gompers School, adjacent to campus, I hope this project sparks a focus on education for the next generation."





The Art

There are two murals for SDG #4: Quality Education: One on the St. John’s University (SJU) campus, and another at the adjacent Samuel Gompers K-8 school.

Isabella Akhtarshenas used her graphic design skills to create an engaging and playful mural for Gompers elementary school.The work celebrates curiosity as children explore ideas with stylized books, telescopes, a tiger, calculators, and musical instruments.

Akhtarshenas noted that, “Education follows us through all aspects of our lives, and when that education is high-quality and well-rounded, it provides lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

Arthur Haywood created the second mural, installed in the SJU Sciences Building. In the mural, a sidewalk is transformed by a mystical figure opening a giant book, which casts light upward and reveals a natural paradise above.

Arthur Haywood's work celebrates the wonder of stories. His paintings are seen on murals for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, Sprocket Mural Festival, his book "The Great Library" and Space and Time Magazine. He exhibits his paintings in New York and Pennsylvania and completes commissions. He also specializes in bringing his fantasy-styled artwork to school and library murals and book covers.

Mural #1 location: Drexel Library at Saint Joseph's University & Samuel Gompers Elementary School

Mural #2 location: Saint Joseph's University Sciences Building


Local Impact

Each mural project contains a grant awarded to a deserving organization doing related work. The SDG #4: Quality Educationgrant went to one of the hosts, Gompers School and the Philadelphia School District. SJU funded the $3,000 grant.

Academic partner for Mural #1: David Steingard (Haub School of Business), Saint Joseph’s University

Academic partner for Mural #2: David Steingard and James O'Sullivan


Global Context

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, the world was already falling behind in achieving its education targets. If no further action is taken, only one in six countries will attain SDG4 and provide universal access to quality education by 2030. Approximately 84 million children and young people will remain out of school, and around 300 million students will lack essential numeracy and literacy skills necessary for success in life. Between 2015 and 2021, school completion rates saw limited progress, with slowdowns observed even before the pandemic.

Global learning levels showed no improvement between 2015 and 2019, and COVID-related school closures led to learning losses in the majority of countries surveyed. Pre-primary education access remains far from the target, with a stagnant participation rate of about 75% one year before official primary entry age. Additionally, formal or non-formal education and training participation is low among adults aged 25-55 compared to youth.

Basic school infrastructure and teacher qualifications are also insufficient globally, with a significant number of primary schools lacking access to essential services and a considerable percentage of teachers not meeting national norms for qualifications. To achieve SDG4, education systems must be reimagined, and increased education financing should be a priority national investment.


Thanks To

GPA celebrates the efforts of artists Isabella Akhtarshenas and Arthur Haywood and the hospitality of host-sponsor St. John’s University. Congratulations to host and grantee Gompers School.



Check out the news coverage of the SDG #4 Unveiling! : 

To read more about the unveiling, check out our Emerging International Journalist coverage about the event.

To look at photos from the event, take a look at GPA's Flickr album

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