By Fazeena Saleem
Doha: With an aim to expand educational programmes for marginalised children around the world, ‘Educate A Child’ (EAC) gathered 16 education ministers and high level delegates yesterday in Doha in the presence of H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson and Founder of the Education Above All Foundation.
The countries participated in the meeting represent nearly one-third of the children who are not even enrolled in primary education.
Addressing the participants, Sheikha Moza said: “We hope to identify how EAC and its partners can contribute to overcoming these obstacles and to set realistic and achievable timelines and clear goals for all countries involved. We hope that with this meeting, more countries and partners will join us soon.” Senior Qatari officials including H E Dr Mohammed bin Saleh Al Sada, Minister of Energy and Industry, H E Dr Mohammed Abdel Wahed Ali Al Hammadi, Minister of Education and Higher Education, H E Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chair of the Supreme Education Council, as well as senior representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs were also present.
Julia Gillard, Chair of the Global Partnership for Education and Dr Ahmed Mohammed Al Meraikhi, Director of International Development Department, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, provided keynote speeches to open the meeting.
“The meeting discussed about some of the challenges we face in getting that last ten percent of children into school. It gave very good contributions and interesting observations. Some challenges were also discussed and a real interest was shown in moving the agenda forward,” Dr Mary Joy Pigozzi, Director of the Educate A Child programme told The Peninsula following the high level discussions. Solutions for reaching the children out of school in each country were discussed and will be taken forward from the meeting.
Representatives of Educate A Child will visit the countries to study about the educational programs being conducted in the 16 countries and look for the possibilities of working in partnership.
“Obviously the relationship with the ministries of education is critical for us. Because education is a national responsibility so anything we do must be in support of the national program within their educational plan,” said Dr Pigozzi.
“We look at interesting programs, we go there and look at those proposals which we are interested. We do our own assessment in terms of technical, financial reputation and legal appropriateness of the organisation, and look if we can work in a partnership model,” she added
Countries in attendance included Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Burkina Faso, Comoros, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Philippines, South Africa, Tanzania, Zanzibar and Yemen.
The meeting was convened by Educate A Child (EAC), a global programme of the Education Above All Foundation, launched by Sheikha Moza in November 2012, which aims to trigger significant breakthroughs in providing quality primary education to the 57 million children who currently have no access to schooling.
In total, the countries participating in the meeting represent nearly one-third (31 percent) of the children who are not enrolled in primary education.
Ministers were invited to the meeting based on their countries being identified as priority for expansion of Educate A Child co-funded programmes.
Currently, Educate A Child operates 44 programmes in 24 countries, but aims to expand this following the High-Level Meeting. In less than 18 months since its launch, is providing access to nearly 2 million children, with a goal of 10 million by the end of the 2015-2016 academic year.