Your Majesties, President Wade, Your Royal Highness, Director General Matsuura, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Welcome to Oslo.
We are honoured to host the High-level Meeting on Education for All.
Three months ago we met in New York to discuss the way ahead for the Millennium Development Goals.
I was honoured to lead the roundtable on education and health.
We took concrete initiatives to build thousands of classrooms and train thousands of teachers.
Norway alone announced that we will allocate 150 million dollars to a Unicef programme for girls’ education.
Now we must make sure that the world delivers on these promises.
So that we achieve the UN Millennium Development Goal number two: primary education for all by 2015.
Because although we are halfway in time, we are not halfway to our target.
Good progress has been made in achieving universal primary education.
Since the turn of the century the number of children who have received education has increased by around 40 million.
However, 75 million children are still not in school.
To reach the UN Millennium Development Goal on education it is estimated that 9 billion dollars a year will be needed.
But, in the words of Derek Bok, former President of Harvard University:
"If you think education is expensive, try ignorance."
Quite simply, education makes sense.
Education pays off.
It increases personal income.
And it increases national income.
Education reduces poverty and inequality.
It lays the foundation for sound governance and effective institutions.
In other words: no education, no development.
And nothing is more conducive to development than investing in girls’ education.
Education empowers women.
But most important of all, education is the foundation for our development as human beings, for self-realisation and self-esteem.
Ladies and gentlemen,
With more children in school, more resources are required.
And we need to focus on the areas where the challenges are the greatest.
In rural areas and urban slums.
In the least developed countries and in fragile states.
And we must improve children’s health, so that children can go to school.
The task has been made more challenging by the financial crisis.
We cannot allow the financial crisis to compromise our efforts to reach our goals.
We cannot allow the weakest to be hit the hardest.
We must honour our promises.
We must dedicate the next seven years to the bottom billion.
Norway will do its part.
Next year Norway’s development assistance will represent 1% of our gross national income.
Ladies and gentlemen,
We all remember our first day of school.
We were curious and excited.
We had our very first glimpse of the boundless universe of knowledge.
Every child has the right to experience that moment.
Our job as politicians is to make that moment come true for the 75 million children who now can only dream of it.
Let this conference help make education a reality for every child.