I wish to thank the panelists for sharing their particular experiences and thought-provoking insights with us this afternoon.
Despite certain achievements, the education sector is facing serious challenges. Progress has been hampered by lack of resources and un-coordinated efforts in meeting the goals. While funding for basic education doubled from 2002 to 2009, it has since stagnated.
A particular challenge is reaching the very large number of girls who are not yet in primary or lower secondary school. Much remains to ensure that girls are enrolled and complete secondary and higher education.
Poor learning outcomes represent an additional challenge. Today, 250 million children leave school after four years of primary education without acquiring basic literacy and numeracy skills.
Education is a fundamental right and the basis for progress of any country. The global ambitions to eradicate poverty, break the cycle of humanitarian crises, and lay the foundation for sustainable development, cannot be reached without quality education for all.
Education is the highest priority in the development policy of the Norwegian government. Norway will host a Conference on Education for Development in July, aiming at mobilising a strong and renewed political commitment to reach the tens of millions of children who are still being denied their right to education, and to strengthen learning outcomes for children and young people of all ages.
We foresee two outcomes from the conference: One is the announcement of a Commission on Financing for Education. The other is a set of principles and a plan to establish a platform and possibly a fund for education in humanitarian and protracted crises.
There is a growing problem of millions of children being denied education due to armed conflicts. As children who actually attend school are less likely to be forced into child labour, recruited by armed groups, sexually abused or married early; close to 40 states less than two weeks ago met in Oslo and endorsed the Safe Schools Declaration committing themselves to address the issue of protecting education in armed conflicts.
There is a need to bring the relationship between child labour education higher up on the development and education agendas.
Programmes to include all children, especially girls, in education must be designed to take into account the particular needs of child workers.