With the participation of Her Excellency Lolwah Rashid Al-Khater, Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Doha, 31 May 2021 – Following the 11-day war on Gaza, Palestine, Education Above All (EAA) Foundation and its partners held a vital webinar on Wednesday to amplify the voices of students in Gaza. Her Excellency Lolwah Rashid Al-Khater, Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, opened the session.
Delivered in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Luminus Technical University College (LTUC), and Qatar Fund For Development (QFFD), the webinar titled “Students’ Voices from Gaza: Investing in their education for a brighter future” highlighted first-hand accounts by youth on the recent atrocities they survived, the homes, family and friends they lost and how it has impacted their lives, their education and hopes for the future. Her Excellency Lolwah Rashid Al-Khater addressed the youth panellists and opened the session with a personalised, heartfelt poem addressed to the students, their peers, families, and community. Her Excellency re-joined the session to give a personal message to the panellists: “I hope this will be the last war for everyone here. All of you are great examples of bravery and strength in these challenging times. I congratulate all of you and am honoured to have met all of you, and I pray that God gives you strength and courage to continue your journeys and to keep you safe.”
Sham Ayman, a dentistry student from Gaza, said: “The recent war was even more difficult because it brought us back to the atrocities of 2014. We become afraid of loss because we know what it means.” Nada Al Ashi, a student who moved to Gaza in 2015, said: “To experience the aggression from within, when you don’t know when the next bomb is coming, was a completely different experience than reading about the war.” Wala’ a Jaradah, student, had to evacuate her home for safety, when her father told her to take the most important things: “The first thing I thought of was my schoolbooks.' Nasser Al-Attar, a third-year medical student, said: “A university degree is a weapon. When the attacks started, I just wanted to take my laptop with me – to continue my education.”
The event highlighted and reinforced the urgent need to protect education from attack in ensuring every child’s right to safe, inclusive and equitable quality education in line with EAA’s global advocacy efforts. EAA’s #UniteToProtect campaign calls for an end to the impunity for education-related violations of international law, bringing the need to strengthen mechanisms to protect education to the global agenda.
Since its founding after the 2009 conflict in Gaza, EAA’s Al Fakhoora programme has invested in Gaza's educational infrastructure, providing approximately 1,000 marginalised youth with a unique Higher Education and Empowerment scholarship programme. After the 51 day war in 2014, Al Fakhoora with its partners UNDP, UNICEF and UNRWA worked to reconstruct and rehabilitate 50 destroyed educational facilities (including government and private schools, kindergartens, training centres and universities), as well as constructing the first Child-Friendly School in Palestine. In addition to refurbishing 43 UNRWA schools used as shelters by men, women and children who had lost their homes or had to evacuate during last weeks’ atrocities, Al Fakhoora further collaborated with UNICEF to create psychosocial rehabilitation programmes for students, and worked in conjunction with Qatar’s Ministry of Education and Higher Education (MOEHE) to train over 11,000 teachers and counsellors to better support their students.