Statement on education at donor conference

Oslo, 24 February 2017

Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende's statement on education at the donor conference for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region.

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Question 1: "Norway has been a steadfast champion to education, with a strong focus on girls' education and education in emergencies. Most recently, you have championed the work of the Education Commission and of the Education Cannot Wait for education in emergencies. Why is education so dear to Norway's heart? Is progress being made? What more can and should be done?"

Norway has made education a top priority because it is not only a human right - it is a prerequisite for development.

It is hard to fathom a more important item on our agenda. Access to quality education is crucial for all children all over the world.

Over a period of three years, Norway has doubled financial aid for education. We allocate more than eight per cent of our humanitarian funding to education.

Almost 37 million children are out of school in countries affected by conflict. A staggering 14 million children have no schools to attend in Nigeria and the Lake Chad region.

We must keep in mind that education and protection are closely interlinked. Children are hardest hit by the growing magnitude of armed conflicts and natural disasters.

Schools can and should be safe havens, but much too often they are not.

This is why Norway promotes the Safe Schools Declaration. Girls are particularly vulnerable. What happened to the girls in Chibok and what happens to schoolgirls in other conflict settings is horrific. It cannot be accepted.

Conflict reinforces gender inequality. Girls are almost two and a half times more likely to be out of school if they live in conflict-affected countries.

We need to join forces to protect the right to education – for girls as well as for boys, because when we step up to the plate, we can achieve a lot together.

One example is how Unicef delivers results on access and enrollment in Northeastern Nigeria, in cooperation with the government and with the support of Norway and other donors. A priority for us as a donor is to help improve education and support victims of sexual violence by Boko Haram.

We need to learn from these accomplishments. We need to replicate these results elsewhere.

Question 2: This is a pledging conference after all – so let me close the session by coming back to our two donor representatives on this panel. It's fair to assume that money alone will not resolve the problems in northeast Nigeria or the Lake Chad region. What else needs to happen or change for all children and youth to have a fair chance to learn?

Today we must help ensure that displaced children get a safe learning environment in host communities and camps, and not least when they finally return to their original homes.

We need to support the construction, repairs and protection of school facilities as well as teacher training.

While money alone will not resolve the problems, additional funding is a precondition for success. We should coordinate and strengthen our support to governments that take responsibility, but are stretched to capacity in trying to provide a functioning education system.

Together, we need to both mobilize more funds and spend existing resources more efficiently through joint approaches that bridge humanitarian aid and development cooperation.

All humanitarian and development actors must work together on shared objectives. Local partners are key to the implementation of education programs, but their success requires the support and co-operation of all relevant actors.

Norway has helped initiate the Education Cannot Wait fund in order to keep children in school during conflict and crises. The first investments of the funds include support to education for children and youth in Chad. Support to other countries are in the pipeline.

If we refrain from taking action, it will paramount to denying children their right to education. This would be a violation of human rights with far reaching consequences.

We cannot allow this to happen on our watch.