Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser has announced a global education initiative today that targets some 61 million primary-school-age children who are being denied a basic education. At least 28 million of these children live in conflict zones, UN statistics indicate.
The initiative, entitled Educate A Child, focuses on finding innovative teaching solutions and replicating these worldwide.
In an interview with the Skoll World Forum, Sheikha Moza said she recently observed children in Bangladesh learning in boats, which she cites as a good example of the work that’s being carried out:
In the marshlands of Bangladesh, the combination of flooding and poverty make normal schooling almost impossible. Here, “floating schools” serve a dual purpose – they act as a bus, collecting the children, and as a classroom, providing education.
Educate a Child is already carrying out more than 20 projects in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, reaching around 500,000 children.
In the same interview, Sheikha Moza also addressed the role of education in maintaining societal stability, including in the Middle East, which has seen waves of unrest in the past year and a half.
“No matter where you look in the world, there is a strong correlation between a lack of education, a lack of opportunities and consequent frustration that can contribute to a propensity towards social unrest,” she said.
The first lady points to Qatar’s education policy as an example of what can be achieved given the right ambition, and the funds to achieve it:
“Qatar has put education at the very heart of government policy. We have consistently sought to provide Qataris with the very best education and training opportunities, reforming our curricula and investing heavily in schools, teachers and facilities. For instance, our Education City campus in Doha encompasses education, innovation and delivery, from school age to research level.”
However, according to the country’s five-year National Plan, the number of Qataris enrolling in universities is dropping, and many of those who do pursue higher education are dropping out before they finish their courses.
Qatar University has also recently responded to criticism that its admission policies are too strict by relaxing them. The result has been an increase in enrollment, but also accusations of a “dumbing down” the curriculum after foundation course requirements (in English) were dropped for courses taught entirely in Arabic.
Credit: Photo by Doha Sam