The event, which occurred on the sidelines of the 70th UN General Assembly, was part of a high-level meeting convened by H.E. Sheikha Alya Al-Thani, Permanent Representative of Qatar to the UN, and focused on the issue of education in emergencies. A panel of high-ranking officials representing government, multilateral institutions and NGOs, including Gordon Brown, former British Prime Minister; António Guterres, UN High Commissioner for Refugees; and Pierre Krähenbühl, Commissioner-General of UNRWA attended the meeting.
The striking collection of photos showcases children attempting to pursue an education in the midst of poverty, conflict and the aftermath of natural disasters. The book follows in the tradition of ‘The Cradle of Inequality”, photographer Sebastio Salgado and writer/poet Cristovam Buarque’s groundbreaking collection of photos published in 2013. ‘Challenges and Reality’ revisits many of the locations captured in Salgado and Buarque’s work, showing the progress—or in some cases, the lack thereof—made towards improving education for the world’s poorest and most marginalised children since the adoption of the Millennium Development Goals in 2000.
‘We are proud of this important new work, which shines a light on the conditions in which children in desperate conditions are striving to realise their right to a primary education’
said Marcio Barbosa, CEO of Education Above All. ‘EAA is deeply committed to the issues of universal primary education. In the three years since Her Highness Sheikha Moza founded Educate A Child, EAA has put commitments in place that have brought quality education to more than six million out of school children, including among them one million refugee children.’
The book’s launch coincides with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, which set the global development agenda for the post-2015 period. Included in the goals is a commitment to finishing the push to primary education for all. While progress was made in the latter years of the Millennium Development Goals, new conflicts and disasters have increased pressure on educational systems in affected and nearby countries and displaced millions of people, including school-age children.
Mr. Attar, who has accompanied Her Highness on numerous trips abroad to visit with children and teachers, hopes that his new collection will help put a face on the issue of out of school children. ‘My work with Educate A Child has taken me to schools all over the world. Everywhere I go, I’m struck by the resilience of these children and their teachers, even in the direst of circumstances’, said Mr. Attar.
‘If they can achieve so much in the face of great adversity, imagine how far these children could go with the right resources. I hope my book opens the world’s eyes to the needs of these children and spurs real action on the issue of universal primary education.’
Addressing the critical link between the refugee crisis and primary education, Mr. Barbosa said, ‘We must not lose momentum in this crucial transition period between the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals and their implementation. The SDGs provide the framework but do not present an immediate solution, particularly for the millions of refugees hoping for a better future for themselves and their children today. We must keep the promise we made to the world’s children back in 2000: that one day all children would receive a quality primary education.’