H.E. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Launches “COVID-19” Fund for Refugee Education

April 30, 2020 

The fund focuses on refugees living in overcrowded camps, informal tent settlements and congested host communities where access to online education is currently out of reach.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE), has launched a COVID-19 Online Learning Emergency Fund, it announced on April 30.

As part of the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund, the emergency fund will focus on the gaps and challenges faced by the most vulnerable refugee youth and host communities in Jordan and Lebanon, which are in the top 10 countries hosting the largest numbers of refugees globally.

The fund focuses specifically on refugees living in overcrowded camps, informal tent settlements and congested host communities where access to online education is currently out of reach.

It strives to reach 6,000 children and youth to ensure the continuity of their education during the current crisis. For such communities, home-schooling is also inaccessible due to similar challenges.

This emergency fund helps organisations address issues in transferring their education programmes to online modalities or TV, including logistical barriers such as the lack of internet and technology access, which will be addressed through the provision of internet, laptops and tablets, as well as technical support for digital content.

The fund will also provide access to innovative modalities of learning, such as engaging bilingual educational platforms and online tutoring support.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair said: “Online learning has become the new norm to ensure the continuity of education for millions of students across the world, and we know that access to this modality of learning is restricted for too many refugee communities. Refugee education has been severely affected by the pandemic and the aim of launching the COVID-19 Online Learning Emergency Fund as part of the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund is to collaborate closely with grantees and partners to find creative solutions to address pressing needs for refugees and vulnerable students.”

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), a strategic partner of the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund, emphasised the need for more support to refugee education during this crisis.

Khaled Khalifa, senior advisor, representative to the Gulf Cooperation Council Countries and UNHCR, said: “The world is going through challenging times. The spread of COVID-19 is disrupting the lives and education of millions of refugees. The strategic partnership between UNHCR and The Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund will help provide refugees in Jordan and Lebanon who are not equipped with the necessary tools to join their peers in distance learning without further exposing them to infection.”

The Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, launched in 2015, supports the provision of high-quality education opportunities for Emirati and Arab youth across the Arab region.

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H.E. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Attends Launch of the Global Muslim Philanthropy Fund for Children

September 26, 2019

NEW YORK, 26 September 2019 – UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) today launched an innovative fund that will open new opportunities for Muslim philanthropy to reach the millions of children currently in need of humanitarian support and help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).  

The Global Muslim Philanthropy Fund for Children (GMPFC) is the first fund focused on Muslim giving to be launched by a United Nations organization together with a Multilateral Development Bank (MDB). The fund will enable multiple forms of Muslim philanthropy, including obligatory giving such as Zakat and voluntary giving such as Sadaqah donations and Waqf endowments, to contribute to emergency response and development programmes.

It is estimated that global annual Zakat contributions alone may reach up to US$600 billion, making this a significant potential source of sustainable funding to help achieve the SDGs. Seeking to raise US$250 million, the Fund will be administered by the IsDB and unite giving from private and public foundations, Zakat agencies and individuals.

Funding will be allocated to UNICEF and IsDB programmes in the 57 Member Countries of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) which have been identified as eligible to receive Muslim giving, uphold UNICEF core values and deliver the greatest strategic impact for children and young people. This will include support for children in education, health and nutrition, water and sanitation, early childhood development, protection and youth empowerment. 

As a lead investor to the Fund, Abdul Aziz Abdulla Al Ghurair, chairman of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, today committed to contribute US $10 million to the Fund over a three-year period. This commitment will support refugee education programmes in the Middle East and North Africa region.

“Global humanitarian needs are at critical levels and rising,” said Dr. Bandar Hajjar, President of the Islamic Development Bank. “Nearly 184 million people, including 89 million children need humanitarian assistance in 2019. Children are especially vulnerable– they face the highest risk of violence, exploitation, disease and bear the brunt of climatic events, be they floods or droughts. That is why we need urgent and innovative solutions such as Islamic finance. We are proud to partner with UNICEF to develop this innovative, ethical and sustainable funding solution. Together we can provide help and assistance today and ensure a brighter tomorrow for those who need it the most– our children.”

“Every child has the right to survive and thrive, but conflicts and other emergencies continue to deny children the protection, health and futures they deserve,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “Emergency programmes in OIC countries account for two thirds of UNICEF’s humanitarian funding needs. This new partnership with IsDB will accelerate our efforts to reach the most vulnerable children with life-saving support and demonstrates the power of collective action to help every child attain every right.”

The GMPFC offers a coordinated and structured mechanism through which Muslim giving can respond to the children and young people who need it most. It benefits from UNICEF’s on-the-ground presence in all OIC member states and areas affected by emergencies, pooled resources and reduced costs, and programmes that have been pre-approved to absorb Muslim funding.

At the same time, the Fund will build on the decades-long experience and relationships of the Islamic Development Bank in its member countries to build financing partnerships at scale to support development. By working together holistically, UNICEF and the Islamic Development Bank aim to catalyze massive and long-term change benefiting all children in supported countries.

 “The Global Muslim Philanthropy Fund for Children is an important and much needed initiative in Islamic philanthropy and will have a meaningful impact for children and youth at the global level,” said Abdul Aziz Abdulla Al Ghurair. Through our investment in the Fund we help to ensure that refugee children are able to claim their right to a quality education.”

Source: UNICEF

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Roundtable Discussion to Explore Ways to Drive Global Response to Refugee Education Crisis

September 9, 2019

(Office of Her Majesty – Press Department – Amman) – The Queen Rania Foundation for Education and Development (QRF), Save the Children, and the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) convened a high-level meeting on refugee education in Amman on September 9, 2019, addressing one of the critical humanitarian issues born out of the global refugee crisis.

Held under the patronage of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah, the meeting brought together philanthropists, business leaders, donor institutions, and international and regional development organizations, and was chaired by Hassan Jameel, Community Jameel President, and Kevin Watkins, Save the Children UK Chief Executive Officer.

The Amman meeting followed a high-level roundtable held at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2019, which Queen Rania also attended, and which was chaired by Hassan Jameel and Helle Thorning Schmidt, then Chief Executive Officer of Save the Children International and former Prime Minister of Denmark. The meeting was also part of the build-up to the Global Refugee Forum, which will be held in Geneva in December by UNHCR.

Speaking at the roundtable, Hassan Jameel, Community Jameel President, said, “At Community Jameel, we recognize the importance of education. By supporting teachers’ wellbeing, in conjunction with improving quality teaching practices and student learning, we have the opportunity to re-establish the transformative role of education in vulnerable children’s lives.”

Save the Children UK Chief Executive, Kevin Watkins, said, “Save the Children is celebrating 100 years of humanitarian and development experience and we are delighted to be partnering with such high-level, global philanthropists on this critical agenda.

“Over half of the world’s 25 million refugees are children. If those children were a single country, that country would be the country with the world’s worst education indicators. More than half of the world’s school-aged refugee children – 4 million in total – are out of school. These children are being denied a source of hope for the future and the passport to a better future. This is one of the greatest moral challenges facing our generation – and turning a blind eye is not an option.”

Among the attendees were senior representatives of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UAE-based Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, the Saudi-based Alwaleed Philanthropies, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the Islamic Development Bank, the LEGO Foundation, Schmidt Futures, and the World Bank.

Jordan has a strong track record of welcoming and supporting refugees, and has become a leading venue for innovation in humanitarian development. Contributing to the country’s efforts in this field are QRF’s various technology-driven solutions to development challenges, including the foundation’s online education initiative, Edraak.

Following its initial launch by Queen Rania as an adult learning platform, Edraak partnered with and the Jack Ma Foundation to launch a K-12 platform, providing quality Arabic education materials to both children and adults, accessible for free to refugees and others across the region.

Another program, the Transforming Refugee Education towards Excellence (TREE) initiative, received a major boost with the announcement on Monday that philanthropic organization Dubai Cares had committed USD 1.5 million to the program.

TREE is an initiative of Save the Children and MIT J-WEL being piloted in Jordan, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and in collaboration with Community Jameel and Dubai Cares. Over a five-year period, it aims to equip Jordanian teachers with skills to deliver effective teaching, and to help students suffering from trauma overcome challenges.

Established by Queen Rania in 2013, QRF aims to improve education outcomes in Jordan and the surrounding region, focusing its efforts on a range of overlapping areas including early childhood care and dvelopment, innovation in learning, and teacher training. The foundation conducts education research, and supports policy makers as they develop education programs.

Community Jameel was established in 2003 to uphold the legacy of the late Abdul Latif Jameel, who supported and uplifted the disadvantaged in his community throughout his lifetime. Community Jameel runs its programs worldwide, collaborating with major international institutions and grassroots organizations.


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Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund Announces Grant Recipients of Second Round of Funding

September 3, 2019

  • Fund to disburse AED25 million to organizations supporting the education of over 10,000 young refugees in round two of funding
  • First two of three rounds to see AED74 million supporting the education of over 17,000 youth in Jordan, Lebanon, UAE
  • Fund established by Emirati businessman and philanthropist His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair in 2018 to support refugee students to build sustainable lives with market-relevant education, skills

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: 3 September, 2019 – The Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund has announced the grantees of the second round of funding in Dubai today. Following the successful completion of the inaugural round in 2018, the Fund has identified eight beneficiaries from Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates.

The grantees include the Emirates Red Crescent in the UAE, UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency and Relief International in Jordan, and Unite Lebanon Youth Project (ULYP), Beit Atfal Assumoud, Alfanar, Digital Opportunity Trust and War Child Holland in Lebanon.

Established with the aim of supporting thousands of out-of-school young refugees in continuing their education, the second round aims to disburse grants totaling AED25 million to organizations supporting refugee students in Jordan and Lebanon, and children affected by conflicts and disasters who are temporarily residing in the UAE. The announcement coincides with the beginning of the new academic year 2019-2020.

Speaking on the significance of education and upskilling of refugee youth, His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair said: “We believe that education is just as important for refugee youth as food and shelter. It is not just a basic right and necessity, but also a tool for recovery. Going back to school partially restores normalcy for the young people and enables them to obtain knowledge and skills that will help them chart a successful career path and earn a sustainable income.

“Furthermore, education transforms lives and contributes to building holistic and progressive communities. Now more than ever, the private sector needs to come together to create platforms that provide quality, inclusive and equitable education to refugees and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all. We should also encourage partnerships between governments, businesses and individuals in boosting available local resources for education.”

He added: “The results and impact of the first round were rewarding and humbling at the same time. Our goal for this round is to reach even more students. We have committed to supporting over 10,000 refugees through the eight grantees in the UAE, Jordan and Lebanon. The focus this year is on secondary-level and vocational education to equip the students with skills that are relevant to the economy and meet labor market demands. Along with our partners, we seek to identify new approaches to long-standing challenges in refugee education that will lead to improved educational outcomes.”

In closing, he said: “We urge other philanthropists, individuals and companies to unite, as it is never too late to build a better future together.”

Local partnership for a sustainable program

For the second consecutive year, the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund will continue to work with the Emirates Red Crescent to finance the school fees of 400 out-of-school children who are temporarily residing in the UAE due to conflicts in their home countries.

New and continued partnerships in Jordan and Lebanon

In Jordan, the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund will join forces with UNHCR to enroll over 1,000 students in English language courses through a blended approach to address one of the biggest challenges they face in pursuing higher education. UNHCR will also support 700 vulnerable non-Syrian refugees to assist them with tuition fees and other hidden educational costs to enable them to continue education.

Commenting on the partnership, Khalid Khalifa, Regional Representative, Gulf Area Officer, UNHCR, said: “’We are honored to partner with Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund on such an important project. Refugee children often face multiple barriers preventing their access to education. This is why it is imperative that we continue working with committed partners to find innovative solutions to tackle the many barriers preventing refugee children from accessing their right to an education.’

Relief International, another grantee in Jordan, will provide 600 students who have dropped out of school or are at the risk of dropping out with access to a non-formal education program accredited by the Government of Jordan. The project focuses on helping young women return to school to complete their formal education.

In Lebanon, Al Fanar will support 3,000 students eligible for grade 8 and 9 in their Brevet (9th grade) exams with quality education at secondary level. The grantee will also offer additional blended coding and programming courses for 160 refugees to qualify them for jobs in the digital economy. Meanwhile, ULYP will support 250 students of grades 7 and 9 in preparing for the brevet (9th Grade) exam. The grantee will also raise awareness on the importance of education among refugee parents.

Similarly, Digital Opportunity Trust will prepare 2,400 young refugees for employment in the digital workspace through enrolling them in CISCO-accredited courses, in addition to courses accredited by Google, Facebook and Microsoft on Digital and Media Literacy, Mobile Application Development, Social Media Marketing, and Robotics, among other subjects. War Child Holland will provide remedial strengthening and language support to 2,000 youngsters in high-concentration refugee communities.

Finally, Beit Atfal Assumoud will utilize the grant to place 220 young people in industry-related apprenticeship programs and assist them in finding formal full-time or freelance employment.

In round one, the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund awarded AED49 million in direct funding to notable educational and humanitarian organizations to enable 6,788 refugee students to attend secondary school, vocational education, and university, as well as to acquire soft skills so that they can realize their aspirations for the future. Round two disburses AED25 million to grantees, bringing the total of both rounds to AED75 million, will see over 10,000 children returning to complete their education at different levels, bringing the total number of students benefiting from the two rounds to over 17,000. The third and final funding round will follow in 2020.

Established by His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Emirati businessman and philanthropist, in 2018, the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund seeks to provide refugee students with market-relevant education and skills to help them build sustainable lives.

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The Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund Officially Launched

June 20, 2018

On the occasion of World Refugee Day, His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Emirati businessman and philanthropist, announced the establishment of the Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund, a new initiative to benefit refugee youth in Jordan, Lebanon and Arab children affected by wars and disasters residing in the United Arab Emirates. The 100M AED initiative will run for 3 years and will support the education of a minimum of 5000 children and youth.

International funding for refugee education has not been able to keep up with the vast need in the largest host countries. Speaking on the occasion, His Excellency Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair said: “I established this fund during the Year of Zayed because I believe that philanthropists have a role in helping to support one of the most acute challenges of our region: lack of education opportunities for young people who need it the most. Young people whose education has been interrupted by conflict deserve a chance to rebuild their lives and have a shot at a good future.”

The Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair Refugee Education Fund will support high-impact education programs at the secondary, vocational and tertiary levels of education for refugee youth in Jordan and Lebanon. The grants provided by the fund will also support children of families who due to wars and disasters in their home countries, temporarily reside in the UAE but are unable to afford school fees.

The new fund will award grants through a competitive selection process to education institutions and non-governmental organizations working with refugee children and youth from countries affected by wars and disasters. This first round of grants to partner organizations in Jordan, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates will be announced prior to the start of the new school year. The next call for proposals will be in early 2019.

According to UNICEF, over 80% of out-of-school children and youth in the region are affected by conflict. The Syrian conflict has severely exacerbated the situation with 2 million children out of school and hundreds of thousands of youth unable to continue their education.

Applauding this initiative, Filippo Grande, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees said “ We welcome the generous commitment by Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair. This significant contribution is in-line with UNHCR’s direction towards a whole-of-society approach where individuals and organizations work hand-in-hand to ensure that people who have been forced to flee are able to rebuild their lives and take control of their futures. The Fund highlights the importance of the Arab world’s business community in creating a positive impact through supporting the region’s displaced communities.”

Commenting on the initiative, Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education said “There can be no better investment in the future of the Arab region than to support the education of the most vulnerable – refugee children and youth. I have long advocated for new partnerships and solutions to address funding education for refugee children and youth. This important initiative will make a difference in the lives of thousands of young people and I am encouraged that other business leaders will follow.”

Elaborating on how the fund will be managed, Maysa Jalbout, Chief Executive Officer of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, said: “We are grateful to our Chairman Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair for entrusting the Foundation in developing and administering this important initiative. The refugee education fund will allow us to reach thousands of children through partnerships with education institutions and non-governmental organizations.”

2018 is the Year of Zayed in the UAE, marking 100 years since the birth of its founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nayhan. This initiative is aligned with the values and legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed, whose humanitarian impact transcended boundaries and sowed the seeds for several of today’s philanthropic efforts.

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