At the Education Commission’s meeting in Oslo earlier this month, a press briefing was held with UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Commission Chair Gordon Brown and Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg. More than a dozen journalists from leading Norwegian and international news outlets – from NTB: The Norwegian News Agency to Dagbladet, TV2: Nyhetskanalen and Reuters – journeyed to the Holmenkollen Hill station outside the Oslo city center to listen in.
Mr. Brown began the briefing by acknowledging the key role of the Norwegian government and the Prime Minister in pushing forward the global education agenda. “Without the leadership of the Prime Minister, we would not have a global commission looking at this important agenda. Without her leadership, education would not be at the top of the international agenda. Without her leadership, girls’ education would not be given the prominence it deserves and will form part of the recommendations of our report about how we can improve access to opportunity for girls.” The Commission Chair went on to explain the current global education crisis, highlighting the plight of millions of refugee children and youth with no access to school and the millions more caught in the crossfire as victims of emergencies, natural disasters and conflicts.
But Mr. Brown was optimistic about the potential impact of the Commission’s report and the brain trust of its leaders. He noted, “We believe we are breaking new ground in a number of key areas. We are breaking new ground in making the investment case for education that has often been ignored.” The Chair closed with a passionate plea: “We will make the case for education. We will make the case for resources. But we will call on presidents and prime ministers – around the world – to take education more seriously and to ensure that not just some of the children develop some of their talents but all of the children develop all of their talents. This would not be possible without the support of the Norwegian government.”
Prime Minister Solberg began by acknowledging the “enthusiastic work” of the Commissioners and her excitement as they prepared to meet in Oslo to finalize the recommendations that will be presented to the Secretary-General at the UN General Assembly this September. She emphasized that the world needs “new and more bold recommendations on the future of education.” In making the case for increasing commitments to global education she said, “Education is really the thing that can create sustainable development. Sustainable for people because education gives them the qualifications to participate and be included in their society.” And as a corollary, the Prime Minister added, “We will not eradicate poverty without education. We will not manage to reach the health target without education. And we probably will not reach the target we have on stronger institutions and environment if people cannot learn to read and write and participate and understand how their way of living affects the local environment.” In closing, she stressed that, above all else, “education is a human right.”