New York, September 19 (QNA) - HE Minister of Education and Higher Education Buthaina bint Ali Al Jabr Al Nuaimi stressed that the State of Qatar is one of the leading countries in the process of digital transformation in education, hailing the ministry's necessary measures to confront the COVID-19 pandemic in record time once it first broke out globally.
Her Excellency ascribed the country's educational achievements to the importance the wise leadership attached to education, which contributed to providing an infrastructure of well-trained educational cadres, electronic platforms, communication networks, digital sources, and created students capable of dealing with modern technology.
In an exclusive interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA) in New York, Her Excellency affirmed that the State of Qatar, under the leadership of HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, is playing a leading global role through its external development aid projects in the sectors of education, health and economic empowerment.
Her Excellency said that the State of Qatar's unrelenting calls for the need to avert education the scourge of the ongoing conflicts around the world were widely approved by the international community, most notably the adoption of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly of the draft submitted by the State of Qatar to adopt the International Day to protect Education from Attack in 2019, and the unanimously passed General Assembly resolution on the right to education in emergencies, a resolution submitted in 2010 by the State of Qatar with the support of HH the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, and HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser.
Her Excellency noted that the recently launched e-learning strategy aims, in a related context, to equip students with top-notch digital skills, in order to prepare them for a future that depends heavily on these skills.
Asked about her view of the reality of education in the country, and her satisfaction with what Qatar has achieved, and future educational plans, Her Excellency stressed the State's relentless approaches to achieve optimum quality assurance indicators in all inputs and outputs of the educational process in a way that meets the needs of society through fruitful efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals, especially the fourth goal and its objectives, re-imagining the future of education, and ensuring the right to education as a public benefit for all, in a manner that meets all needs and capabilities.
Commenting on the accession of dozens of Qatari schools to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Associated Schools Network (ASPnet), and the advantages that these schools would obtain as a result of this accession, Her Excellency said that the network seeks to build peace in the minds of students, and to enhance the values and principles stipulated in the UNESCO Constitution and the UN Charter, which include the fundamental rights, human dignity, gender equality, social progress, freedom, justice, respect for diversity and international solidarity.
The State of Qatar joined the membership of ASPnet in 1983 with one school, namely Doha Secondary School for Boys, said Her Excellency elaborating that the so far number of Qatari schools that have joined the network exceeds 100 schools, comprising the three educational cycles (primary, preparatory and secondary). Her Excellency noted that the ASPnet's main areas of work cover education for global citizenship, culture of peace, non-violence, education for sustainable development, intercultural education and appreciation of cultural diversity and heritage.
Her Excellency underscored the accession to the ASPnet membership allows schools to be part of a global community of schools, as well as twinning partnerships with partner schools in more than 180 countries, as well as participating in UNESCO-organized projects, campaigns and global competitions, benefiting from the international organization's educational resources and being briefed on the latest developments in education and learning process.
In response to a question about the many international initiatives related to education for the State of Qatar and their results on the ground, Her Excellency replied that the State of Qatar, under the leadership of HH the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani, is playing a leading role internationally through foreign development assistance projects in the sectors of education, health and economic empowerment through partnerships with international organizations, which confirms its commitment to the international community to contribute to providing the right to education for all, and accelerating the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and beyond, especially the fourth goal on quality education.
HE the minister told QNA that over the past ten years, almost a billion dollars have been invested in development projects in the education sector, benefiting millions of children and young people in more than 60 countries, stressing that the permanent appeals of the State of Qatar to take away education from the ongoing conflict in the world have received a great resonance with the international community, pointing out that this is evidenced by the response of the United Nations General Assembly and its approval of the draft submitted by the State of Qatar to adopt the International Day for the protection of education from attacks in 2019, noting that Qatar submitted in 2010, with the support of HH the Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani and HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, a General Assembly resolution on the right to education in emergency situations, which was adopted by the General Assembly unanimously.
In this regard, she stressed that the State of Qatar is one of the leading countries in protecting education in emergency and crisis situations and that its foreign policy is keen to support and provide development and humanitarian assistance to the affected countries in various common issues, especially providing quality education to millions of children who have lost their right to education due to conflicts, wars and disasters around the world, which makes it a role model in this field.
In a related context, HE the minister praised the leading role of HH Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of the Education Above All Foundation, in the adoption of the "International Day to Protect Education from Attack", which proves the commitment of the State of Qatar towards affirming the right to quality education for all, working to ensure the well-being of millions of children, placing education among the most important priorities to ensure the safety and protection of educational institutions, and ensuring access to quality education to conflict zones.
She highlighted that the efforts of the State of Qatar and its pivotal role in this regard were expressed by the UN General Assembly by approving the "International Day to Protect Education from Attack" on September 9 every year.
Commenting on the means to protect education from conflicts around the world and the role of the UN in this respect, Her Excellency affirmed that the State of Qatar was one of the pioneering countries to ratify the Safe Schools Declaration in 2015- an inter-governmental political commitment concerned with protecting students, teachers and various educational facilities from the impacts of armed conflicts by ensuring a set of commitments to enhance the protection of education from attacks in a way that ensures the continuity of education.
The State of Qatar called on all states to ratify and abide by the Declaration in a bid to ensure access to education in conflict areas, providing safe environments, developing appropriate educational systems, raising awareness and educating people to respect international laws that guarantee human rights, Her Excellency added.
Her Excellency stressed the need for procedures to closely monitor and hold those accountable for war crimes and violations of the right to education as well as translating international policies and laws into urgent measures, initiatives and projects to back high-quality, inclusive and life-long education opportunities, by ensuring innovative financing for war-affected areas.
Asked about the leading role of the Education Above All Foundation in protecting and spreading education in the world, Her Excellency stressed that the Foundation is one of the leading international institutions in the field of education support, adding that the foundation seeks to reach the fourth development goal through its global programs that provide quality education opportunities for millions of out-of-school children, and also calls for building a global coalition to protect the right to education.
Her Excellency hailed the efforts made to enable the institution to attain its goals and commitments, highlighting the foundation's achievement to provide primary education to nearly 14 million children around the world, as well as about 9,000 university scholarships for refugee and displaced students in a number of affected countries.
Her Excellency touched on the preparations made ahead of the "Education Transformation" summit, which was called for by the UN Secretary-General during the current 77th session of the UN General Assembly, where education topped the priority agenda pf political action, with the aim of ensuring recovery from the global turmoil due to the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises, and ensuring the acceleration of the achievement of the sustainable development goals, most notably the fourth goal on education, and re-envisaging the future of education.
Our preparations included consultations at the regional and national levels, by involving all community institutions to reach national priorities in education and translate them into international commitments that represent the roadmap towards achieving the fourth goal of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), said Her Excellency, highlighting the attention the national consultations gained through the participation of various national agencies with more than 100 participants and 50 public and private bodies from local community institutions, in addition to the bureaus of international organizations.
We also began to work towards implementing commitments through cooperation with all national bodies and society, Her Excellency noted.
On the sidelines of the UN General Assembly session, HE the Minister of Education and Higher Education will take part in two sessions: "Financial Innovations: Expanding the Fiscal Space for Education to Finance Learning Recovery" and "Localizing Education for a Sustainable Future".
Regarding the first session, Her Excellency deemed the lack of funding one of the main reasons that handicap education, and considered that the misappropriate investment of funds and waste of financial allocations in secondary matters that are not a priority have negative impacts on achieving the fourth sustainable development goal on education, calling for further directing financial resources in a manner that enhances the students' performance and the teaching and learning process itself.
Her Excellency said that the Education Transformation Summit held Sep. 17 provided an opportunity to benefit from the best practices, international experiences and the exchange of experiences in a manner that enables access to innovative initiatives to find alternative solutions to finance education.
The innovative ideas in financing contribute to promoting the creation of useful solutions that allow the reallocation and investment of funds in addressing priority issues for education, Her Excellency added.
Commenting on the second session, Her Excellency highlighted the Rasekh Initiative devised by the Qatar Foundation in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, as a digital learning platform that links all educationalists, local institutions in Qatar from both sectors and other key agencies.
Her excellency said the localization of education is intended to link the curricula with local knowledge, and to enable students to master the Arabic language, particularly in international and private schools that pursue bilingualism, in addition to linking the curricula to the national identity through the promotion of values and morals as well as the preservation of cultural heritage.
Her Excellency elaborated that the initiative seeks to provide a generation of students from all cycles of basic education with the knowledge required to be citizens committed to their deep-rooted values while simultaneously building bridges with the world by providing a country-specific top-notch education.