The United Nations chief has joined Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai in calling on world leaders to secure education for young people across the globe.

Describing children as the "seeds of future progress," Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Tuesday that education is the "the soil to help them grow into global citizens."

Ban spoke in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, at an international conference to promote education in Third World and conflict-stricken countries.

Malala, a Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban in 2012 for asserting her right to an education, said books were "a better investment in our future than bullets."

The Oslo conference comes in preparation for a summit on financing education and other strategies to combat poverty in Ethiopia later this month and the U.N. General Assembly in September.