Education Above All Foundation and its partners host global event to mark the International Day of Education and urge the international community to #BuildBackEducation

News and Press Release
Originally published

Doha, 25 January 2021– To mark the International Day of Education, Education Above All Foundation (EAA) yesterday virtually brought together learners, education decision-makers and thought leaders from across the globe to discuss how education should be rebuilt and reshaped globally following the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the right to education of nearly 1.6 billion learners in over 190 countries impacted by the pandemic, the virtual event, titled “Education, a key to post COVID-19 pandemic recovery: How can we prevent a generational catastrophe?”, saw the participation of Her Excellency Lolwah R M Al-Khater, Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Maria Victoria Angulo Gonzalez, Minister of National Education of Colombia; Mr. Robert Jenkins, Global Chief of Education at UNICEF; Dr. Mamadou Dian Balde, Deputy Director, Division of Resilience and Solutions, UNHCR; and Marie-Ange Saraka-Yao, Managing Director at Gavi, in addition to key global figures including Shakira, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Founder of The Barefoot Foundation, Karen Bryson MBE, British Actor and advocate for the rights of women and children, who discussed the global commitment to rebuild education during two subsequent sessions.

Ahead of the International Day of Education, EAA launched its #BuildBackEducation campaign under the umbrella of #UniteToProtect, to raise global awareness for the urgent need to build back education, as a central element to the global COVID-19 recovery process.

Covering key areas such as access, safety, financing, education technology and the digital divide, the campaign will run for a further three months to urge the international community to join efforts to #BuildBackEducation.

Shakira, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and Founder of The Barefoot Foundation, said: “School is a place of safety and of nourishment for children. Even before COVID-19, the world was already in an education crisis. To now truly recover, we must promote accessible, quality, inclusive, and equitable education for all.”

In her keynote speech, Her Excellency Lolwah R M Al-Khater, Assistant Foreign Minister and Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said: “2020 was an exceptional year for the international community, which saw progress impeded. Through the pandemic, almost 90 percent of students worldwide have been affected by school closures. It also exacerbated the inequalities we have been grappling with throughout the last decades.”

“Our discussion today should outline a new future for education. By exposing the brittle areas of the sector, we must aim to build back resilient education systems. We are here because we know there is no one-size-fits all solution. Together, we must work to secure a prosperous future for all students globally.”

Robert Jenkins, Global Chief of Education at UNICEF, noted: “The pandemic and subsequent disruptions to learning show how important schools are in a very holistic way. We need to remember that schools provide a wide range of services that must cover all children – and that we need to rebuild stronger.”

Karen Bryson MBE, British Actor and advocate for the rights of women and children, called on the international community to instil a sense of resilience, hope and pride to #BuildBackEducation: “For post-COVID recovery, education is a priority. As always, the most marginalised are already deprived of their right to education and are most affected. We must appeal directly to the imaginations of our youth. It can plant the seeds for the thirst for knowledge and growth. It enables a brighter future. It inspires hope.”

Speakers and panellists included: Dr. Diosdado M. San Antonio, Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction at the Department of Education of the Philippines; Elyas Abdi Jillaow, DIrector General, Minister of Education, Kenya; Hana Elshehaby, EAA Youth Advocate; Shawgi Ahmed, EAA Youth Advocate; Suzanne Grant Lewis, Director, UNESCO IIEP; Fazle Rabbani, GPE Senior Country lead for Kenya, Uganda, South Sudan, Eritrea and Lesotho, Global Partnership for Education; Dr. Rukmini Banerji, CEO, Pratham; Mercy Musomi, Executive Director, Girl Child Network Kenya; Leon Botstein, President of Bard College; Hüseyin Oruç, IHH Representative; Abduallah AbuNamous, EAA Youth; Mohamed Munir, Student at the Shafallah Center for Children with Special Needs; Ala’a Shawwaf, Istanbul University student; and Emi Mahmoud, UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador.

Yesterday’s virtual event, that was held as part of the YouthTalkEd series, was concluded with a promise of a list of recommendations for young people across the world, to empower them to pursue education advocacy at a grassroots level.



Nadine Ottenbros

Portland Communications


Mobile: +44 7894 814007

Education Above All (EAA) Foundation

Education Above All (EAA) Foundation is a global education foundation established in 2012 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. EAA envisions bringing hope and real opportunity to the lives of impoverished and marginalised children, youth and women, especially in the developing world and in dire circumstances such as conflict situations and natural disasters. We believe that education is the single most effective means of reducing poverty, generating economic growth and creating peaceful and just societies, as well as a fundamental right for all children and an essential condition to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For more information, visit

EAA is comprised of four programmes: Educate A Child (EAC), Al Fakhoora, Reach Out To Asia (ROTA), and Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC). In addition to providing access to education for children around the world, EAA advocates to safeguard inclusive and quality education for all.