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UNICEF - New solutions needed to provide education for all

Solutions to the global education crisis do exist, but the quality of those solutions needs to be improved, and increased funding and an innovative approach are also required, say Norwegian organisations and Telenor.

There are 58 million children worldwide who have no access to education, and even more who leave school without being able to write their own names. Solving this crisis requires the commercial sector, civil society and authorities to come together and find new solutions. The solutions will have to be sustainable, local and scalable.

On Monday 6 July the Atlas Alliance, the Norwegian National Commission for UNESCO, The Norwegian Refugee Council, Plan Norway, Save the Children Norway, The Norwegian Students' and Academics' International Assistance Fund (SAIH), SOS Children's Villages, Telenor and Unicef Norway hosted the Partnering for Education conference in Oslo. The aim of the conference was to bring together a broad group of stakeholders to advise on how world leaders ought to invest in quality education.

The conference made up the first day of the Oslo Education Summit, which the Norwegian Government has organised in cooperation with the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown.

Innovations alone will not solve the challenges faced by school children across the world. The organisations behind the conference believe that long-term investment in educating teachers is vital to success in this area. Globally, there ought to be at least a fourfold increase in teacher education.  With an increase in the number of conflicts in the world, education funding in crisis zones must be doubled by 2016 to ensure that more children are not prevented from accessing education and/or suffer big gaps in their education. Additionally, the Safe Schools Declaration should be signed by as many countries as possible.

The reasons why many children do not receive the education to which they are entitled, according to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, are complex. Poverty, conflict and discrimination, however, are recurring factors.

A good, inclusive education is a prerequisite in child development. That is why we need to work together to seek to remove obstacles that hinder children receiving an education—in particular the most vulnerable groups like girls and children with disabilities, say the organisations behind the conference. 

At the conference, CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas of Telenor will presented the types of solutions that Telenor was providing in Bangladesh.

- Using digital technology, telecommunications companies like Telenor can provide solutions that enable the general population, and children in particular, to acquire knowledge and an education. Education is key to development and provides exciting opportunities for development and scaling that we are considering, Baksaas says.

There will be three sessions at the Partnering for Education conference: Equity in education, Closing the education gap, leveraging digital solutions, and Ensuring education in emergencies. UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, is coming to Oslo and will give the closing speech at the Partnering for Education conference. He will also attend Tuesday’s high-level meeting.

For further information on Partnering for Education and registration, please go to: http://gyroconference.event123.no/MFA/SideeventOsloEducationSummit/home.cfm 

Notes for editors:

For further information please contact the Unicef UK Press Office on +44 (0)20 7375 6030 or media@unicef.org.uk

Background to editorial information:

Monday's programme consisted of three sessions, each of which will be led by a moderator and debated by an expert panel with international experience. The conference was in English.

Session 1: Equity in education

Millions of children do not get to exercise their right to an education, and many children leave school without having acquired basic skills such as reading and writing. This session will deal with how we can ensure that children who for different reasons are marginalised in society improve at school, and how the quality of the education received improves learning outcomes. An equal right to education is also about states' ability to provide access to schooling for all children, and how the international community must uphold its promises to provide funding.Moderator: David Archer, ActionAid UK, board member of the Global Campaign for Education

Session 2: Closing the education gap, leveraging digital solutions

How can we prevent the gap increasing between children who are in education and those who do not have access to it? How could new technology and digital solutions help? These are the questions that will be asked in this session, and the role of new technology in contributing to economic and social development will be discussed. Within the education sector, there are many innovative solutions and excellent examples of how society can benefit from new technology.Moderator: Peter Vesterbacka, Rovio Entertainment Ltd. 

Session 3: Ensuring education in emergencies 

Approximately 50% of children that do not go to school live in countries affected by war and conflict. It is very difficult for national education authorities and organisations to function in such circumstances. Nevertheless, it cannot be accepted that generations of children miss out on education while they are waiting for a conflict to end. How to protect schools against attacks, as well as other initiatives in providing education during a chronic crisis, feature among the topics that will be discussed.Moderator: Tove R. Wang, CEO of Save the Children Norway 

Recommendations from these three sessions will be part of the discussion basis for world leaders on Day 2 of the conference.

• 250 million ten-year-old children cannot read or write. This equates to almost 40% of all children in the Year Five age group, with those who are most vulnerable being over-represented. The number of children who go to school, but do not learn anything, however, exceeds the number of children who do not go to school. 

• 58 million children do not go to school. More than 50% of these children live in areas affected by conflicts and other crises. Education is at the top of the wish list of children living in these areas. Nonetheless, donors are giving less than half of what they promised in order to provide an education for children living in areas affected by conflicts and crises.

• On average, five schools are exposed to attacks every day. In the last 6 years, there have been attacks on schools in at least 70 different countries. That is one-third of all countries worldwide. Development is going in the wrong direction, while the number of attacks on schools is increasing.

Programme: http://gyroconference.event123.no/MFA/SideeventOsloEducationSummit/program.cfm

About Unicef

Unicef is the world’s leading organisation for children, promoting the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.  

Unicef UK raises funds to protect children in danger, transform their lives and build a safer world for tomorrow’s children.  As a registered charity we raise funds through donations from individuals, organisations and companies and we lobby and campaign to keep children safe. Unicef UK also runs programmes in schools, hospitals and with local authorities in the UK. For more information please visit unicef.org.uk

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