Sheikha Moza launches Educate A Child initiative
HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser witnessing the signing of a project agreement between her new global initiative, Educate A Child, and three partners, the Global Partnership for Education, Unicef and the Sudan government, yesterday. Several other agreements between Educate A Child and partners were also signed on the day. PICTURE: Aisha al-Musallam/HHOPL
HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser yesterday launched a global initiative that aims to trigger significant breakthroughs in bringing quality primary education to all the world’s children.
HH Sheikha Moza announced the initiative during a special session held in the framework of the World Innovation Summit for Education (Wise), currently in session at the Qatar National Convention Centre, in presence of decision-makers, thought leaders, practitioners and stakeholders in education from more than 100 countries. A number of strategic partners of the global initiative were also present.
With 61mn children worldwide still deprived of their fundamental right to education, the Educate A Child (EAC) initiative is partnering with the world’s most expert organisations to bring quality learning to children affected by extreme poverty, conflict, natural disaster, prejudice, or any of the factors that can make them hard to reach by conventional means.
The Educate A Child programme builds on Sheikha Moza’s mandates as a Unesco special envoy on basic and higher education, a United Nations Millennium Development Goal advocate and a Steering Committee member of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s education’s first initiative.
“Educate A Child will reignite the world’s commitment to the hardest-to-reach children, the forgotten children. Our mission is to turn attention back to the disadvantaged children of today, who could become confident adults tomorrow, able to fulfil their potential, if we just give them the right opportunity,” Sheikha
Moza said at the launch event.
Educate A Child is already supporting 25 projects in countries across Asia, Africa and the Middle East, usually on a matching funding basis. The initiative is seeking further partnerships to help many more children in those countries which are seeking assistance for their educational betterment.
“Right now, millions of children are deprived of their fundamental right to quality education,” lamented Sheikha Moza.
Current Educate A Child projects range from low-cost one-room schools in Indian urban slums that provide flexible learning hours in line with children’s working needs, to floating boat schools in flood-riven areas in Bangladesh, to projects working with traditional communities such as Kenya’s Maasai where education for girls is often cut short by cultural norms, such as early marriage.
“Children in war-ravaged villages in South Sudan, or in overcrowded refugee camps in Yemen. Children living in the flooded plains of Bangladesh, or in isolated or marginalised communities in Kenya. Right across the world, because of disaster, because of poverty, children are being denied a chance to change their destinies. We can change this, and because we can, we must,” said Sheikha Moza.
She noted that more than 60mn children were deprived of education. These figures, Sheikha Moza said, could not be realised and that this number was equal to the number of residents of Beijing, London, Paris, Cairo and Karachi all together.
“Educate A Child is about enabling. It is about doing. It is about adapting solutions to the needs of the children. Like Wise, it is about adapting solutions to the needs of the children.”
While some progress has been made in recent years towards the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education, it has shown signs of stalling. Educate A Child aims to bring renewed momentum to global efforts.
Almost half of all out-of-school children worldwide – 28mn – live in countries affected by conflict. Educate A Child is working to support many schools and learning centres for refugee children who have fled fighting or disasters such as drought and famine, to enable them to continue their education in spite of having left their homes.
“Wherever we find children, we find hope, resilience and determination,” Sheikha Moza said. “If we provide access to quality education, we know that amazing things can happen – to individuals, to families and to communities. The benefits cannot be overstated.”
After the launch, a panel discussion featuring strategic partners of the EAC, namely Bharti Foundation of India, Global Partnership for Education, Unesco, UNHCR and UNRWA was held.
Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, who is a UN special envoy to children’s education, Unesco director general Irina Bokova, and Indian industrialist Rakesh Bharti Mittal highlighted the challenges being faced by children to educate and also the initiatives happening at their respective levels to improve the lot of rural children who are deprived of basic education.