Let us be clear from the outset: education is a fundamental human right. Still, for millions of boys and girls, access to education remains a distant dream.
Education is key to poverty reduction, gender equality and climate adaptation. Yet 222 million children and young people in situations of conflict and crisis are either out of school - or learning very little. The UN Secretary-General’s Transforming Education Summit is an important initiative. We urgently need to respond to the global education crisis. We must mobilise greater political ambition, commitment and action to reverse setbacks in education. We must deliver on SDG 4.
Moving forward, there are four areas that I view as particularly important.
First, girls living in situations of crisis and conflict are often likely to be out of school. We must ensure that all children, and especially girls, get a quality education. In Afghanistan, girls of secondary-school age are still being denied access to schooling. This is unacceptable!
Second, extreme weather events are increasing in severity and frequency, disrupting the education of millions of children every year. The stories now coming out of Pakistan in the wake of the catastrophic flooding are yet another grim reminder of this. Schools must be made more resilient to extreme weather events and education must promote climate adaptation.
Third, the lack of coordination between short-term humanitarian assistance and long-term development efforts remains a challenge and results in resources being wasted. We must bridge the gap and strengthen the humanitarian-development nexus.
Fourth, schools must be a safe place for children. We must protect schools from military attack and ensure the full implementation of the Safe Schools Declaration and UN Security Council resolution 2601.
And finally, to succeed in delivering quality education, government capacity must be strengthened. It will be important to increase domestic financing for education. This will enable countries to be better prepared when crises occur.
Norway is proud to be a co-convener of Education Cannot Wait’s High-level Financing Conference, the culmination of its #222 MillionDreams campaign. We must do all we can to make the hopes and dreams of 222 million school-age children a reality.