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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - JEDDAH — The Islamic Development Bank Group’s President Dr. Bandar Hajjar inaugurated “the International Day of Education” event on Monday at the bank’s headquarters in Jeddah.
During the speech, Dr. Hajjar said the world is celebrating these days the International Day of Education for the second year in a row, in accordance with the United Nations General Assembly resolution of December 2018, which proclaimed January 24 as international day of education. The aim of this celebration is to support the efforts to achieve the 4th Sustainable Development Goal (SDG 4) of the United Nations relative to education, i.e., to provide quality, equitable and inclusive education for all and enhance lifelong learning opportunities for all. It is our duty as well, as an international organization working in the domain of human development, to use such occasions to raise awareness and mobilize support in order to meet the challenges that hinder development in our member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries, especially when it comes to crucial topics such as education.
In spite of the global commitment not to leave any child behind, it is disheartening to acknowledge that these promises unfortunately have not been honored on the ground. Today, over 258 million children and young adults are still out of school worldwide, two thirds of them in member countries. The odds are that 39% of those children will go to school late, 20% will drop out, while 41% will never enter school. There are 617 million children and adolescents who are illiterate and cannot perform basic mathematical operations. In sub-Saharan Africa, the completion rate for the lower secondary level of education is less than 40%, and approximately 4 million children and refugees are out of school.
The global shift towards artificial intelligence, which is one of the outputs of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, will lead to a widening of the gap between developed and developing countries, especially in the domain of education and the creation of appropriate job opportunities, unless these challenges are met, and creative and innovative ideas found to improve the quality of education and raise the level of school enrolment in developing countries. This can be achieved through directing artificial intelligence to serve education in the countries most in need.
Since its inception, the IsDB Group has been standing out with its continuous focus on the primary role of education. In fact, the IsDB has opted for international interaction in this domain by adopting SDG 4 relative to education. In this context, the IsDB supports investment in education and human resources development through numerous programs and projects.
In terms of numbers, the IsDB has funded more than 2,000 education projects in member countries and Muslim communities in non-member countries, at an estimated cost of more than USD5 billion in 136 countries. The Bank contributed to establishing some 1122 schools or educational institution in non-member countries.
In the same context, the IsDB recently launched the "Sabeel" fund in partnership with the Global Alliance to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria to support refugees and displaced persons in OIC and host countries. In its first year, the fund will initially target expanding interventions to the displaced population, including refugees, internally displaced persons and host communities in countries where both the IsDB and the Global Fund operate (OIC countries), and non-member countries subject to the policies of the IsDB, with a focus on health and education. The resource mobilization strategy will focus on corporate donations and other non-traditional grants to make an impact in accordance with the principles of Zakat. The Fund is expected to achieve $500 million in commitments over the next ten years (2020-2030).
In this context, the IsDB signed memoranda of understanding and cooperation agreements with educational institutions in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. They included one with the Ministry of Education in May 2017, a memorandum of cooperation with King Abdulaziz University in August 2017, a technical assistance agreement with Prince Mugrin bin Abdulaziz University in June 2018 for $280,000, a technical assistance agreement with Princess Nourah bint Abdulrahman University in December 2018, for $280,000, an Istisna’a agreement with Al Bayan Charitable Foundation for Education in Medina in March 2019, for $8.8 million, and a technical assistance agreement with the Regional Centre of Quality and Excellence in Education in January 2020 for USD240,000.
Recognizing that no single development organization can address all the challenges faced by member countries, and based on the "linkages" pillar to support partnerships, which is one of the six pillars of the President's Five-Year Program (P5P), the IsDB has recently succeeded in boosting partnerships and cooperation with stakeholders in the field of education, such as the Global Partnership for Education "GPE", UNESCO, the German GIZ, Education Above All, Save the Children, etc.
As an example of this success, the partnership with GPE has resulted in support for the Tajikistan National Education Project with $1 million grant from GPE, in addition to an IsDB funding of approximately $30 million. — SG
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