Education will be a key theme when the Prime Minister visits three African countries on July 1-4, 2014. Prime Minister Solberg co-chairs the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Group, which aims to mobilize global action in achieving the Millennium Development Goals by the end of 2015. Her journey begins in South Africa and Malawi, where the Norwegian Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende will join her, and concludes in Rwanda.
The Norwegian government recently presented concrete proposals as to what Norway can do to reach the more than 10 % of children worldwide who do not have access to primary education. These are primarily children living in extreme poverty or in conflict-affected areas, and in particular those with disabilities or those who are subject to discrimination.
"Promoting equal rights to education for all children, boys and girls alike, will be a priority in Norwegian development policy. We will increase support for education and will seek to make countries concerned, other donors, international organisations, NGOs and the private sector pull together in a joint effort to improve global education," says Minister of Foreign Affairs Børge Brende.
"Ensuring that all children receive a good basic education is not just about teaching them to read and write. Education is a ticket out of poverty. No one needs this more than children growing up in the world’s poorest countries or in conflict areas," Ms Solberg says.
Some 58 million children of primary school age and 70 million youth do not attend school. The quality of teaching is very poor in many countries; some 250 million children at year 4 level can neither read nor write. Norwegian assistance to education has fallen in recent years. The Government is seeking to reverse this trend and will double its funding for global education in the current period.
"We will give high priority to girls’ education. In many countries, access to education for girls is under particular pressure. It is unacceptable that girls’ schools are being attacked and that pupils and teachers are being subjected to threats, violence, kidnapping and even murder," Ms Solberg says.
"Girls’ lack of education is one of the greatest barriers to development. Girls who complete their education are better able to take care of themselves and their families. An education helps to ensure that fewer girls get married and have children too early, and that they are better equipped to fight for their rights and avoid abuse," Mr Brende says.