The Norwegian government places high priority on education in its development and humanitarian policy. The aim of Norway’s funding efforts for education is to promote economic development, democratisation and the implementation of human rights, thus contributing towards the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Education is a fundamental human right underpinning the exercise of all other human rights. It promotes individual freedom and empowerment, and is strongly linked to economic and societal development. Since 1990, the international community has succeeded in halving the number of children who are out of school. Still, in today’s world, 59 million children remain without access to basic education and 63 million adolescents do not attend secondary school. This obstacle is acknowledged in the UN Sustainable Development Goal 4: “Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all”.
Despite the many remaining challenges, donors’ political will to give priority to education has been dwindling. Development assistance targeted at education has declined since 2010, and the gap between needs and funding is increasing. The percentage of Norwegian aid channelled to education fell from 13.3 % in 2005 to 7.2 % in 2013. In an effort to reverse this trend, the Norwegian Government launched a renewed focus on education in its foreign and development policy, and aims at mobilizing strong and renewed global political commitment to reach the children and adolescents who are still being denied their right to education.
On 13 June 2014, the Government presented a white paper on global education to the Norwegian parliament. The document states that the main objectives of Norway’s funding efforts for global education are to help ensure that:
- All children have equal opportunities to enroll in and complete a basic education.
- All children and young people learn basic skills that will equip them for adulthood.
- As many as possible develop skills that enable them to find employment, and that may improve the prospects of economic growth and sustainable development in the broadest sense.
The Government aims to double its annual development aid targeted at education during the parliamentary period 2013–2017. For the budget year 2016, the amount of funding allocated for education is approximately 2.9 million NOK, around 60 % of which is channelled through multilateral institutions such as UNICEF and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
In its efforts to promote global education, the Norwegian government puts particular emphasis on maintaining a coherent approach to the education sector, including vocational training and higher education. Prioritized areas include financing of education, education in conflict and emergencies, education for girls and women, as well as education for vulnerable and marginalised groups, such as children with disabilities and indigenous peoples. Norway is moreover promoting qualitative improvements in education, such as teacher training and innovative teaching aids.