The First Lady of Paraguay, Silvana Lopez Moreira, hailed the efforts of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of the Education Above All (EAA), for her valued efforts in serving education around the world, expressing pride at partaking in the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE 2019), held in Doha.
In her speech at the EAA’s plenary session at the World Innovation Summit for Education, First Lady of Paraguay reviewed the main gaps in the education system in Paraguay that increase the dropout rate of children despite the fact that education is compulsory there, explaining that one of the main reasons for this are the high incidence of poverty; early marriage and the challenges her country had faced.
She said that the Government of Paraguay believed that education was a sacred right for every human being and a path for a better future for children and society. The First Lady said that, as part of her public work, she had started implementing a programme to bring children back to school through sports, especially in fragile, poor and remote areas.
She pointed that she has met with Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Education Above All Foundation, to implement the ‘Educate a Child’ initiative in her country after its impressive success in providing education to more than 10mn children worldwide.
She pointed out that the programme launched by her institution in Paraguay was an inspiration to FIFA to launch the initiative “School football” in many countries of South America.
Silvana Lopez stressed the need to face difficulties and challenge problems facing children by providing them with quality education so that they can become future leaders and change the world.
Unicef Goodwill Ambassador Shakira Mebarak expressed her gratitude for the co-operation with the Educate A Child programme to educate nearly 55,000 children in her country of Colombia, praising the role of Her Highness Sheikha Moza in providing quality education to children in fragile areas and conflict zones around the world. In her keynote address, the Goodwill Ambassador reviewed the issue of children dropping out of education in Colombia, citing their unfortunate reality, difficult living conditions, early marriage, prevailing culture and falling into the hands of criminal groups.
She stressed that the solution lies in investing the greatest resources in working for children, setting an example by her experience where she was able to change the reality in areas where she worked by focusing on children and provide them with a good education, while ensuring simple factors that encourage them to go to school, which includes transportation, hot meals and training teachers and administrators to deal with them well.
Shakira Mebarak highlighted the importance of partnership with government agencies, civil society organisations and the private sector in providing advanced and model schools in remote areas. She stressed that after the establishment of a number of schools a rapid and direct transformation in these communities has been affected by improvements in roads, electricity and water also emerged, while students from these schools also appeared as graduates who became stars of the community.
The Goodwill Ambassador added that seeing these success stories is greater than any honours, noting that the returns on investment in education are very large and characterised by the change in it from the bottom up.
Shakira Mebarak stressed that governments, civil society and the private sector should play their part to solve this problem, because one impediment to poor students is the lack of a clean bathroom, meal, transportation, poor treatment of educators or school administration, which could lead to students dropping out of education, pointing to the need for partnerships, the study of fragile communities, the search for children and talking with their families to bring everyone into the education system.
The Education Above All Foundation’s plenary and panel discussion ‘Zero Out of School Children’ at WISE 2019 emphasised the persistent need to reach those young people whose right to education remains unfulfilled and how the issue of dropout is a global crisis, not just a problem.
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