UNHCR and Sheikha Moza bint Nasser in programme to educate 172,000 refugee children

Press Releases, 16 November 2012

UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres on Wednesday announced a joint programme with Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar to provide quality education for 172,000 refugees and other forcibly displaced children in 12 countries.

"My dream is to make sure that every refugee child has access to quality education so they have a chance to build a positive future for themselves and their communities," said Guterres, who was speaking at the launch of the Global Initiative on Educate a Child, part of the World Innovation Summit on Education, in the Qatari capital, Doha.

"Sheikha Moza's Educate a Child initiative helps bring that dream closer to reality by providing quality education to tens of thousands of refugee children around the world," he added.

Sheikha Moza's Educate a Child initiative is partnering with global organisations, including UNHCR, to bring quality education to children affected by extreme poverty, conflict and displacement.

"Right across the world, because of disaster, because of poverty, children are being denied a chance to change their destinies. We can change this, and because we can, we must," Sheikha Moza said in a speech.

Last month Sheikha Moza travelled to Kakuma refugee camp in northern Kenya, where she met refugee children from Somalia and Sudan who will benefit from improved schooling as part of this initiative.

Sheikha Mozza invited Suad Mohammed, a Somali refugee and headmistress of one of the schools in the camp, to the summit. Suad spoke to the audience of over 1000 participants about the difference that education in the Kakuma refugee camp had made for her. She told the audience that she is now the headmistress of the school that educated her in the camp.

Supermodel Alek Wek, who is a former Sudanese refugee and a supporter of UNHCR, was a keynote speaker at the conference. During her speech she noted that children from South Sudan, will benefit from education under this initiative. Wek highlighted the importance of her own education, "If it wasn't for my education I could have been a one-hit wonder, but instead I have had a long career as a fashion model."

In 2012, the partnership between the Office of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser and UNHCR on Educate a Child is committing $12.5 million to educate 172,000 displaced and refugee children in Chad, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Uganda, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Malaysia and Pakistan. This is the first stage of a five-year programme and broadened partnership which will provide refugee children with new schools, better trained teachers and education supplies, while other activities and initiatives will support continued quality education and learning.