Doha: Chairperson of Qatar Foundation H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser has urged the international community to protect education from attack and promote it.
In an interview with CNBC International’s Tania Bryer recently in Paris after the International Day to Protect Education from Attack, Sheikha Moza said Iraq was an eye-opener for her regarding the devastating effect of conflict on education.
“Conflict is the main culprit to interrupting education,” she said. “In 2003, when I got involved with Unesco, I started to receive letters from Iraqi students. Students sent me letters asking to help them pursue their education, and I also received letters from teachers, and we invited them to Qatar; all they asked for was bulletproof vests to protect against being killed.”
Sheikha Moza said when she visited Iraq, she was taken to the ‘Green Zone’ where she met teachers and students.
“They explained their situation and how the schools were looted and destroyed. That was a shock for me. Iraq, for me, was an eye-opener. From there, from then, I decided to fight for, to protect education,” she added.
According to her, one conflict can transform a country from being wealthy to a country that suffers from ignorance and illiteracy, “this is what I saw (in Iraq), and this is how I understood the scale of the problem. Unfortunately, people who aren’t close to these situations don’t understand the scale and the ramification of such conflicts.”
In the interview, she stressed that if the international community wants to achieve or tackle climate change or achieve other goals of the SDGs, they need to start with education. She said people need to be educated on being prudent to be wise in terms of dealing with their ecosystem, the environment, their health and their sanitation.
“So these things come back to education. If you educate an individual, you are already helping to bring healthy wellbeing,” she added.
Speaking on the establishment of Education Above All (EAA), Sheikha Moza said the organisation was formed to reach out to kids and ensure their education, understanding that everyone with a different culture has different needs. Hence, EAA tries to provide education to children who are hardest to reach.
She cited examples of Bangladesh and Pakistan, where boat schools were created for Bangladeshi kids due to the prevalent floods.
“Our partners in these areas are like our guide to the culture, to the mindsets there, and try to guide us towards the correct aspects that we should use in terms of how we should implement our programmes, and how to reach out to the people there. They know better, and we respect that.”
Sheikha Moza said her passion for education is in her DNA, being brought up by a father who believed in education. She added that she’d like to be remembered for being serious about education and as a person who tried different means and ways to achieve education for all, especially with all the challenges.
On the home front, Sheikha Moza said H H Father Amir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani had a vision for Qatar to be a modern and prosperous country which has been achieved. She noted the smooth transfer of power from H H Father Amir to H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani and how the Amir has led the country.
“The transition from Sheikh Hamad to Sheikh Tamim (my son) happened in a very smooth way. I think Sheikh Tamim went through many challenges and hard times since he took over, but he faced all of this with prudence and wisdom. People stood behind him and love him, and he is a young and ambitious leader. I think he learned a lot from the political master, his father. I, as a mother, am also very proud of him, and I think he is going to take Qatar to a different phase in the future,” she said.
On the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022, Sheikha Moza said Qatar has been preparing for over a decade, adding that Qatar has always stressed the World Cup as a tournament for the region.
“We have said this is the World Cup for all Arabs. I know our region has been through a lot; it has been sort of a ‘hot zone’ for a long time. So, such an event will bring hope and happiness and joy.”
Sheikha Moza said Qatar promised to deliver a clean, enjoyable and peaceful event and will be achieving that. She said the criticism about the weather that Qatar is too hot “is something I cannot understand and comprehend.”
She said that Qatar has worked on hi-tech stadiums offering acceptable stadiums for the fans, and the stadiums have been certified as sustainable.
“It is something that I would love for people to come and see and join us in such an extraordinary event. For our region, it won’t happen every day, and we are really honoured to host,” she added.
Source: The Peninsula