UNESCO Regional Representative in Doha to QNA: Qatar Plays Crucial Role in Promoting Agenda of Educating Marginalized, Needy Children, Youth -1-

HE UNESCO Representative for the Gulf States and Yemen and Director of the UNESCO Office in Doha Salah El Din Zaki Khaled emphasized the fundamental right to education. He stated that during times of conflict, education provides a safe space for children and youth, protecting them from physical harm while equipping them with knowledge and skills to overcome complex challenges and rebuild their communities when conflicts subside.

Speaking to QNA, he pointed out that despite efforts and progress in this field, many countries have faced numerous attacks on educational facilities, students, and teachers in recent years. The “Education Under Attack 2022” report highlighted that in 2020 and 2021, more than 5,000 attacks were reported in 28 countries, targeting education and involving military use of schools and universities.

He revealed that during the aforementioned period, more than 9,000 students and teachers were kidnapped, arrested, injured, or killed. The report also found that attacks worldwide increased by a third in 2020 and that they continued at this high rate in 2021.

He highlighted that Qatar has played a significant role in promoting the education agenda for marginalized children worldwide, praising its efforts to provide quality education to children and youth in need, especially those whose education has been disrupted by emergencies and conflicts.

Furthermore, he explained that Qatar proposed and sponsored the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 74/275 on May 28, 2020, designating September 9 as the International Day to Protect Education from Attack. He pointed out that Qatar submitted the resolution proposal and 62 countries participated in its sponsorship.

He added that Qatar had also proposed Resolution 64/290 ten years ago, which calls on member states to ensure the right to education for affected populations during emergencies.

He said that recognizing the importance of raising awareness about the need to protect schools and universities as safe havens during times of conflict and ensuring the continuous provision of quality education, the resolution appoints UNESCO and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) as joint facilitators for the annual celebration of this International Day, calling on stakeholders to keep the protection of education at the top of the international agenda.

He pointed out that the International Day for the Protection of Education from Attack primarily serves as a call to take urgent and tangible measures to protect education from attacks by enforcing provisions of international law related to education. It also represents an annual platform to advocate for and mobilize concrete actions to safeguard education and achieve sustainable peace for all.

He stressed that the UNGA resolution reaffirms the right to education for all and the need to ensure safe enabling environments during humanitarian emergencies and times of conflict. It places the responsibility on member states to provide protection and ensure equitable and comprehensive quality education at all levels for all learners, particularly those in vulnerable situations.

Furthermore, the resolution, according to UNESCO’s regional representative in Doha, emphasizes the necessity of intensifying efforts and increasing funding to enhance safe and protective school environments during humanitarian emergencies. This includes measures to protect schools, learners, and education personnel from attacks, refraining from actions that hinder children’s access to education, and facilitating access to education during armed conflicts.

He underlined that effective implementation of the agenda to protect education from attacks requires concerted efforts, coordination, and cooperation with key stakeholders at national, regional, and international levels, including ensuring the effective use of standard mechanisms to guarantee the continuity of education during times of conflict, protecting students, schools, and education personnel from attacks, enhancing accountability for perpetrators, and delivering justice for affected populations.

Moreover, he explained that it necessitates the strengthening of efforts to monitor incidents and ensure accountability for ongoing and deliberate attacks on education. He called for active engagement and advocacy to support the implementation of tangible measures to mitigate and prevent the use of schools by armed forces and to deter armed groups from using schools. He also urged facilitating the continuity of education during armed conflicts.

The UNESCO representative for the Arab Gulf States, Yemen, and Director of UNESCO Office in Doha emphasized Qatar’s central role in promoting educational opportunities for vulnerable children and youth worldwide, particularly those facing challenges related to poverty, discrimination, conflict, or climate change. He highlighted the “Education Above All” Foundation, founded by HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser in 2012, as one of Qatar’s key initiatives in this regard. Since its establishment, the “Education Above All” Foundation has provided educational opportunities to approximately 12 million out-of-school children. UNESCO collaborates with the “Education Above All” Foundation to ensure educational opportunities for children and youth globally and to generate more attention and funding for these agendas.

Concluding his remarks to QNA, HE Salah El Din Zaki Khaled said that UNESCO is also collaborating with the “Education Above All” Foundation in two primary areas to enhance access to higher education for the most marginalized youth, through the UNESCO Qualifications Passport (UQP) and efforts to improve legal and policy mechanisms, as well as data monitoring to protect education from attacks.

Source: Qatar News Agency