07.07.2015 - ODG

Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Norway Voice Support for UNESCO and Education

UNESCO/Cynthia Guttman - UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, with the Prime Minister of Norway Erna Solberg.

Prime Minister Erna Solberg affirmed the role of quality education for giving children and youth a decent future and for combating violent extremism during a meeting with the Director-General on the margins of the Oslo Summit on Education for Development, on 7 July.

She stated that quality is a global concern, because even in developed countries like Norway, a percentage of students fail to acquire basic skills in school, with many teachers lacking the methods to assist students with learning difficulties. 

The Director-General noted that the agenda for sustainable development is, indeed, universal, noting that it is triggering a global reflection on policy measures to improve the quality of education systems. 

She commended the Prime Minister for the success of the Oslo Summit, noting that financing was a critical dimension of implementing the Incheon Declaration. She welcomed the establishment of the Commission on the Financing of Global Education Opportunities, thanking the Prime Minister for inviting UNESCO to be among its co-conveners. 

Strengthening the ‎capacity of education systems through teacher training, curriculum development and overall support to Ministries of education are among UNESCO's core activities that will be crucial to realizing Education 2030. In this regard, the Director-General thanked the Prime Minister for Norway's strong support in these areas. 

‎She drew attention to the Joint Programme for Empowering Adolescent Girls and Women through Education, launched by UNESCO, UN Women and UNFPA, and that takes a system-wide approach in identified pilot countries. ‎ The Prime Minister expressed interest in the initiative, noting that programmes had to be developed to help girls stay in school or return there. 

The Director-General n‎oted that support to teachers is also a dimension of combating youth radicalization, fostering intercultural dialogue and protecting identities. 

"We cannot fight violent extremism in the Middle East or in our societies if we do not work on education," said the Director-General. 

She also said this entailed support to literacy, citing UNESCO's work in Afghanistan and demand from countries such as Egypt. 

The Prime Minister concurred on the need to mobilize different kinds of forces ‎to combat extremism, especially youth and communities, voicing concern over Norwegian youth leaving for Syria. 

In a separate meeting with the DIrector-General, Norway's Minister of Foreign Affairs Borge Brende affirmed that education is one of the most important investments for jobs, innovation, growth and crisis response, and affirmed Norway's readiness to support actions that have impact and are cost-effective. 

She commended the Minister for placing the focus on financing in the lead-up to the UN Financing for Development Conference in Addis, where Norway is co-convening a side-event on education financing. Both noted the need to d‎o more with emerging economies. 

The Director-General thanked the Foreign Minister for Norway's support to UNESCO's core functions, in particular building the capacity of education systems and improving teacher training.

Noting the cost of ignorance, the Foreign Minister and the Director-General discussed the importance of teachers curriculum reform and textbooks that pay heed to human rights, gender equality and values of cultural diversity. Minister Brende noted interest in joint work with UNESCO in Tunisia and Egypt. 

Several areas for potential support were raised, linked to UNESCO's coordination role of the post-2015 agenda.

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