Ghaziabad (UP), Jan 7 (PTI) Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg stressed on the need for education for sustainable development as she visited a government school here in Uttar Pradesh on Monday. Solberg interacted with children, their parents, teachers and local communities at the government primary and middle school in Nithora village in the Loni area. “I view education as fundamental to sustainable development. Access to quality education is a universal human right and is the key to unlocking opportunities for all, so that everyone can enjoy a better life,” she said during the interaction. “India is making impressive strides in education, and I applaud the work that the local community and UNICEF are doing,” Solberg, who is on a three-day India visit, said.

The Norwegian prime minister arrived in Delhi on Monday. Solberg will talks with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during her visit.

She also congratulated the government, authorities and community members for making the school an “inspirational model” by providing quality education, safe drinking water, toilets and facilities for washing hands. “We believe that the right to sanitation is an essential component of standard of living. Sanitation and health are part of ensuring that girls are safe and they stay in school,” Solberg said. District Magistrate, Ghaziabad, Ritu Maheshwari said sanitation is not just about building toilets but about changing behaviours and that the district is open-defecation free.

The officer said almost 100 per cent of households have built toilets which are in regular use. “We have started innovative practices such as solid and liquid waste management (SLWM) and transforming ‘garbage-yards’ into play-gardens and tree nurseries so that Ghaziabad continues to be open-defecation free,” Maheshwari said. During her visit to the school, around 35 km from Delhi, Prime Minister Solberg was shown a demonstration of a mobile app ‘Eeksha’, which is used for supportive supervision in classrooms. The application, according to Unicef officials, is being used in over 1.60 lakh schools in Uttar Pradesh for supporting quality education. She also met young boys and girls from the ‘Meena Manch’, a young peoples’ collective platform for empowerment of girls at the school level.

Members of the manch highlighted issues of female attendance and enrolment in schools. Solberg also spoke with parents during a session on Life Skills Education (LSE) and met with young mothers to understand how community health workers were saving newborn lives. UNICEF India representative Yasmin Ali Haque said girls’ education is one of the best investments that the country can make for its people and its future. “An educated girl tends to marry later and avoids early and risky childbearing. Also, the children she does have will be more likely to survive, better nourished and be better educated,” the UNICEF official said.

Solberg will hold talks with Modi on a host of issues with an aim to expand the multi-faceted bilateral partnership.

She will deliver the inaugural address at the Raisina Dialogue and address India-Norway Business Summit during her visit.

Solberg will also call on President Ram Nath Kovind and Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.