H.H. Sheikha Moza at Georgetown-EAA Seminar

H.H. Sheikha Moza bint Nasser

At a recent conference at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, chairperson of Qatar Foundation and Education Above All Foundation (EAA) participated in a jointly organized panel discussion moderated by the President of Georgetown, John J. DeGioia about protecting education in times of conflict.  The thought leadership seminar also featured United Nations Sustainability Development advocate Dr. Alaa Murabit and Melanne Verveer, executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace, and Security.

“Unfortunately, education is the first victim when it comes to times of war,” said Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, adding: “Entire generations will miss skills to be productive citizens if we don’t intervene and provide education.” She also emphasized that higher education institutions can play a key role in providing innovative solutions to these challenges.

“In today’s world, millions of children face barriers to accessing education,” said President DeGioia. “It is an unprecedented challenge, but the resources and institutions to address it have never been stronger.” The Education Above All Foundation, it was noted, has already reached 10.4 million out of school children over six years.

Explaining how education plays a central role in building peaceful societies, Dr. Murabit said: “Education is about power, it is part of a peace building infrastructure that you need for a country to be able to sustain and maintain political and economic power in its own space, we know that statistically and empirically.”

Melanne Verveer, who served as the first United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues under the Obama administration, shared that “data consistently shows that educating girls is one of the most effective returns on investment,” pointing to research that the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security has conducted on girls’ access to education and employment in Nigeria.

The discussion took place in advance of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Summit in New York on Sept. 24-25, where heads of state talked about progress toward the 17 goals for sustainable development.  Sustainable Development Goal 4 tackles quality education for all, yet according to the U.N., 262 million children and youth aged 6 to 17 were out of school worldwide in 2017, and half of primary school children not being educated live in conflict-affected areas. 

Audience members at the event included a number of policy makers and representatives of higher education, including H.E. Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al Thani, Ambassador of the State of Qatar to America; Dr. Ahmad Hasnah, president of Hamad bin Khalifa University; Dr. Joel Hellman, Dean of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service; and Dr. Ahmad Dallal, Dean of Georgetown University in Qatar, one of the event’s co-organizers. Two GU-Q exchange students studying at the Washington campus for the current semester, Sangkwon Yun and Khemara Chhorn, were also in attendance.

In an effort to continue the conversation beyond the thought seminar, The Education Above All Foundation invited the audience and the greater community to share creative ideas around delivering education during times of conflict. They continue to invite suggestions at righttoeducation@eaa.org.qa.