Announcement of Education Above All's New Strategy

Doha, Qatar, 21 November 2019


Welcome to Doha, where education has always been our cause, and innovating to develop solutions constantly occupies our minds, in order to affirm the role of education in creating change. Since WISE was established 10 years ago, we aimed to make it an intellectual platform to effect change and a laboratory of innovation, as well as a global hub for supporting education.

In this context, and since its launch at WISE in 2012, the Education Above All Foundation embodied the spirit of innovation in developing and implementing its programs. Indeed, Education Above All has succeeded in enrolling 10 million children back into school.

However, as you may well know, according to official statistics there are still 59 million primary-aged children around the world who are not in education. In reality, that number is much larger. The statistics lag behind the actual numbers and many children go unaccounted for due to inadequate monitoring mechanisms. Most of these children are in hard-to-reach areas.

In order to innovate new solutions to the challenges like monitoring, among others, Education Above All is launching a new strategy to be implemented in selected countries, with the aim of ensuring the number of out-of-school children in these countries reaches zero. Through doing this, we can prove that nothing is impossible if we all determine that education truly is above all.

Among other innovative solutions, we proposed the concept of portable, multi-functional schools, designed and equipped for refugee children and their families to use for education and community engagement. The prototype was made to be affordable, adaptable to different weather conditions, and easy to disassemble and transport.

It was designed by the late world-renowned architect Zaha Hadid, and I remember her excitement when I asked her if it was possible for the field of architecture to provide an alternative solution to the tents or temporary wooden buildings typically used for refugee education. My suggestion resonated with her deep desire to contribute and help marginalized children around the world. She subsequently worked to develop and finalize the design until it became what is on display here at the WISE exhibition. Sadly, Zaha Hadid passed away before she could be with us today.

We all recognize that the issue of out of school children is one that is highly complex in its causes and solutions. And the ideal solution for the challenges facing education, as you are all aware, is peace, or, at the very least, for a culture of coexistence to prevail around the world. How can we even dream of achieving what seems impossible in a world that never ceases to produce wars and conflicts, a world that continues to invent regional and international crises? 

You often hear people who speak a rhetoric of peace that sounds nothing like peace, and about alliances for security and stability, while harboring discord within. Then “They swear to you so that you might be satisfied with them. But if you should be satisfied with them - indeed, Allah is not satisfied with a defiantly disobedient people”. At the same time, there is another world that is powerless and helpless.

This is why we find ourselves having to deal with the reality of the global education system in all its complexities, to protect innocent children who know nothing of politics. Children who do not understand why wars are being waged. Children who fail to comprehend why people are fighting among themselves. Children who are only concerned with staying alive, that education became as an imagined luxury they yearn for but cannot receive.

As a mother, I wonder: what if we look at these children from our perspective as fathers and mothers, through the same eyes that we view the future of our own children? Are we capable of doing this?