In the final declaration adopted at the close of the three-day forum, organized by the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Norwegian Government, delegates called on national governments to devote at least four to six per cent of gross national product (GNP) and 15 to 20 per cent of public expenditure to education.The High-Level Group on Education for All (EFA) also urged development partners to increase official development assistance (ODA) and give priority to investment in basic education. The Oslo Declaration stressed that education “is one of the most effective tools” for achieving “economic growth and recovery, reducing poverty, hunger and child labour” and “improving health, incomes and livelihoods.” That is why strong support for achieving internationally agreed development goals, including “education for all (EFA)” – the pledge made by world leaders in the Senegalese capital, Dakar, in 1999 – and the anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline, known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), are even more important now that it was before the onset of the current global financial crisis. Delegates also endorsed the creation of an international task force on “Teachers for EFA,” a voluntary alliance of EFA partners working together to address the global, and growing, shortage of teachers. “Without adequate numbers of professionally qualified teachers, including female teachers, who are deployed in the right places, well-remunerated and motivated, adequately supported and proficient in local languages, we cannot offer the world’s children quality education” said the Group, which brings together top-level representatives from government, development agencies, UN agencies, civil society and the private sector.An estimated 18 million new primary teachers will be needed in the next seven years to achieve universal primary education by the target date of 2015. The Group highlighted the importance of equity in education, noting that at least 29 million children will still not have access to primary school in 2015. Reaching these children will require policies to reduce disparities, expanding early childhood care and basic education, ensuring affordable learning opportunities at post-primary levels and addressing adult literacy needs. 18 December 2008Achieving the goal of quality education for all by 2015 will require countries to devote greater funds to this critical sector and to address the growing shortage of qualified teachers, according to a United Nations meeting that concluded today in Oslo.