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Tariq Al Gurg, Irina Bokova, Carlo Scaramella and Elias Bou Saab discuss how we could lose an entire generation if we don’t educate our children in conflict-affected countries

Dubai - United Arab Emirates

Sunday, March 19, 2017
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A diverse panel of global leaders, teachers, students, and former ministers of education at GESF 2017 highlighted how educating the younger generation in times of conflict and emergencies to build a better future for the suffering country can help them in becoming global citizens.

Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: “Education is a fundamental right of every child, yet in times of conflict and disaster, access to education gets disrupted and results in a lost generation of children and youth.”

Dubai Cares, part of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, has formally committed US$20 million to the Education in Emergencies initiative and are working on six accelerated education programmes in six conflict-affected countries.

Sharing an overview of the current global situation regarding education and emergencies, Ms. Irina Bokova, Director General, UNESCO, said: “There is an urgent need for greater headway to be made in the education sector. Disturbingly, only 50 per cent of refugee children are in primary school and 25 per cent of refugee adolescents are in secondary school. This is not a humanitarian concern, it is about the peace and security of the world. With education, there is 80 per cent less chance of children being vulnerable to poverty, child abuse and violence.”

Carlo Scaramella, Deputy Regional Director for the Middle East, North Africa, Eastern Europe & Central Asia, World Food Program shared successful solutions used in an Education in Emergencies context including WFP’s homegrown school feeding programme - the ‘Healthy Kitchens’ project that started in April 2016 to support Syrian refugees.

His Excellency Elias Bou Saab, founder of the American University in Dubai (AUD) and former Minister of Education for Lebanon said: “Without a long-term commitment from the international community, our regional campaigns and efforts for education in war-torn countries will fail.”

Refugee Olympic team swimmer Rami Anis shared his inspiring journey and the hardships that he had to face before joining the Refugee Olympic Team in track and field in Rio 2016. The 25-year-old fled war-torn Syria in 2015, travelling by boat across the Mediterranean Sea to Turkey before continuing to Belgium.

He said: “Never give up on yourself and continue pursuing your skills because in the end you will be rewarded. The refugees are not uneducated or unskilled people but are just escaping the tragic war that has broken out in their homeland. We are talented and would like the opportunity to showcase our abilities and contribute towards the success of the country who could accept us as their own.”

Ron Alvarez, teacher and Global Teacher Prize 2017 Top-50 Finalist highlighted the importance of art and music in recovery, both with refugees and with young people affected by conflict. He urged the educational systems to include non-formal initiatives to interact with the young children, help them in regaining a sense of stability and inspire them to become global citizens.