Speech/statement | Date: 04/02/2016 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Foreign Minister Brende held the opening speech at a side event on education at the Supporting Syria and the Region Conference in London 4 February 2016.
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Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,
Education is key to Syria’s future.
As we strive to bring an end to one of the worst humanitarian crises in recent history, we must prepare the ground for lasting peace.
However, we will not succeed if 2.8 million Syrian children and young people remain out of school.
We cannot afford to have a lost generation in Syria.
The international community has done too little for too long.
Now is the time to give priority to education – both inside Syria, and in the neighbouring countries.
The goals we have set for this conference are ambitious:
- All refugee children from Syria and all host country children are to have access to education by the end of the coming academic year (2016/17).
- We will increase access to safer learning inside Syria.
- And we will increase access to vocational education.
The conference paper prepared by UNICEF makes it clear:
Our task is to reach 1.7 million Syrian refugee and host-community children in five neighbouring countries –and the 2.1 million out-of-school children inside Syria.
To accomplish this, we need additional resources in the range of 1.4 billion US dollars.
Particular attention must be given to girls’ education.
And we should not forget the many Palestine refugees who are profoundly affected by the crisis in Syria.
Reaching these goals will be challenging:
- Traditional and emerging donors need to pledge far more money than they have so far;
- With our support, governments in the region must invest in schools, expand the double shift system, and put the policies in place to ensure that we reach all children and young people;
- Multilateral and civil society organisations must focus on results and coordinate their efforts;
- And last but not least, we need the private sector on board, to provide more funding, innovative solutions and support for job creation.
What we need is an unprecedented partnership for children and young people.
From what I hear, today’s pledges will take us a long way in the right direction.
As for Norway, our Prime Minister will announce a significant increase in our support to Syria and the neighbouring countries.
15 % of Norway’s support will be allocated to education and child protection.
For too long, education in emergencies and protracted crises has been a neglected issue.
At the World Humanitarian Summit in May, I hope to see the launch of a common platform and a financing facility to strengthen global efforts in this field.
Some of the funds pledged today could be channelled through that platform.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Now is the time to scale up our support for quality education and safe schools, both inside Syria and in the neighbouring countries.
This is an investment in Syria’s future.
It is essential for achieving peace and stability in Syria, and in the region as a whole.
I am confident that this gathering of dedicated leaders will ensure a successful pledging session this afternoon.