Speaking ahead of the EAC High Level Strategic Meeting (HLSM) in the Qatari capital, at which she will welcome ministers and senior government officials from 18 states, Sheikha Moza said that while this was an outstanding start, there remains a great deal to be done: "Half a million more children in the classroom means half a million more people given the opportunity to fulfill their potential, to realize their ambitions and to contribute fully to their communities, their nations and yes, to humanity,” said Sheikha Moza. “But it also highlights just how much remains to be done to give this opportunity to all of the 57 million children who through no fault of their own are being deprived of one of their most basic human rights. This meeting will seek to build partnerships to get millions more children into school."
While poverty is the leading reason for children being denied education, conflict zones rapidly become emergency situations to which Educate A Child has reacted quickly. One of Educate A Child’s most striking successes over the course of the past six months has been its partnership with organisations such as UNHCR and UNICEF in helping refugee children around the world. Right now EAC is helping refugee children in 12 countries through these partnerships
EAC is currently targeting 34 countries around the world that account for more than 70 percent of the world’s Out of School Children and is working in 17 countries already. Today (Monday 29, April, 2013) 17 government ministers and representatives from target countries (see list of countries below) are present in Doha for an intensive two-day programme of networking, regional seminars and troubleshooting clinics, all designed to help participants find and explore affordable, local, culturally relevant solutions to this pressing problem. This represents a continuation, extension and development of some of the work begun last year at the UN General Assembly, where UN Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon launched his Global Education First Initiative; and at the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) held in Doha soon afterwards. It also follows on from work undertaken earlier this month in Washington, where Her Highness addressed a ministerial roundtable at the World Bank.
The Doha meeting will examine collaborative efforts to provide opportunities for all children, improve and modernize systems of education worldwide and produce generations well-prepared to contribute positively to the new world we are trying to build together – all while preserving the cultural identities of the societies that will make it up. As EAC rapidly becomes recognized internationally as a driver for change in the field, ministers and other high-level representatives will also have the opportunity to meet and form alliances with the private sector, programme sponsors, NGOs and development agencies of every type in a “Marketplace” session designed to maximize the potential for real, positive outcomes.
Another highlight of the meeting will be the publication of A Moral Obligation, an Economic Priority, an important new research paper by Dr Nicholas Burnett of the Washington-based Results for Development Institute commissioned by EAC. A prominent expert in the field, Dr Burnett demonstrates that over and above the overriding moral imperative to give children the education they deserve there is a crippling economic cost to developing nations of up to seven percent of their Gross Domestic Product per annum if they fail to do so. Sheikha Moza said:
"Strategically, we must link education to efforts to reducing poverty, providing meaningful employment opportunities, investing in skills development, encouraging sustainable growth, strengthening social protection mechanisms, promoting gender equality and focusing on human development and human capital. We have the momentum with us, and I am sure this meeting will give us all renewed determination and inspiration to meet this enormous challenge."