Since its inception in 1994 by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), October 5th of every year marks World Teacher Day. This year’s theme was ‘Young Teachers: The Future of the Profession.’ The day provides the occasion to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide, to take stock of achievements, and to address some of the issues central for attracting and keeping the brightest minds and young talents in the profession.
Qatar celebrated with the participation of a number of UNESCO-affiliated schools in a ceremony held at the headquarters of the Ministry of Education and Higher Education.
Education plays a vital role in the Human Development Pillar of the Qatar National Vision 2030 (QNV 2030). The Human Development Pillar looks to enable the Qatari people sustain and grow the country’s progression in all areas. Education is the foundation of the Human Development Pillar. Qatar is actively focusing on education from primary school all the way to higher education levels, in an effort to have one of the top education systems in the world.
Education City is a major part of Qatar’s education initiative. There are various programs ranging from IB-accredited school systems to specialized schools for K-12. For higher education, there are offerings that include a range of degrees from undergraduate to postdoctoral degrees. In total, there are 20 schools located in Education City; 11 are K-12 schools and 9 of them are universities. Of the universities, six of them are American universities: Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar School of the Arts, Weill Cornell Medicine – Qatar, Texas A&M University at Qatar, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Georgetown University in Qatar, and Northwestern University in Qatar.
“Education is one of the basic pillars of social progress. The state shall ensure, foster and endeavor to spread it.”
– Permanent Constitution of Qatar
The State of Qatar has been a member of UNESCO since 1972, and currently holds a seat on the Executive Board. Qatar has 82 UNESCO associated schools (6 pre-schools, 39 primary, 9 primary and secondary, and 28 secondary schools). Qatar also hosts a UNESCO office in Doha, which was established in 1976 and serves as a cluster office for Qatar and other countries in the Gulf region.
(Image Source: Qatar Foundation International)
On September 18, Her Highness Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser spoke at Georgetown University in a seminar titled “The Right to Education for All.” The Thought Leadership Seminar was co-hosted by the Education Above All foundation and Georgetown University.
During the panel discussion, she stressed the need for education to continue during and after times of crisis so that upcoming generations gain the capacity of creating and sustaining more stable futures.
She also urged universities and educational organization to take the lead in using innovative technology’s and techniques to find solutions that can accelerate progress for protection of education.
The event also featured Dr. Alaa Murabit, who currently serves as the United Nations High-Level Commissioner on Health, Employment & Economic Growth and Ambassador Melanne Verveer, the executive director of the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security. The panel discussion was moderated by Georgetown University President John J. Degioia.
On Wednesday, September 11th, the Qatar-America Institute hosted a Xavier University of Louisiana (XULA) Reception in honor of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 49thAnnual Legislative Conference. The event had three prominent speakers: Dr. Reynold Verret, Congressman Cedric Richmond and Brandon Garrett.
Dr. Reynold Verret is the sixth and current president, as well as second lay leader of Xavier University of Louisiana. Congressman Cedric Richmond is a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for Louisiana’s second district, which is the district in which Xavier University is located.
Richmond also serves as Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus. Brandon Garrett is from the greater New Orleans area, and serves on the Board of Trustees for Xavier University.
Of the 107 historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and 262 Catholic colleges and universities in the United States, Xavier is the only Catholic HBCU in the nation. XULA is one of the schools that has a partnership with Qatar.
“The generosity of Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani and the nation of Qatar is a testament to the value of a quality education as a universal need for students to lead and serve in a global society. Our goal is to cultivate the ability, creativity, and ingenuity of these young minds; and I’m proud to say that Qatar’s support has helped Xavier’s College of Pharmacy achieve distinction as one of the top three colleges in the nation for African American Pharm.D. graduates”
-President Reynold Verret, Xavier University of Louisiana
Xavier University was originally founded as a high school in 1915 by Katherine Drexel (later canonized) and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament; ten years later it would become a four-year college program. Even though it is established as Catholic and HBCU, of the 3,200 students, about 25% is not African American and roughly 75% is not Catholic. Xavier University’s doors are open to any qualified students.
The partnership between Qatar and Xavier University of Louisiana began in 2006 after Hurricane Katrina. The State of Qatar established the Qatar Katrina Fund in September 2005 to provide direct assistance to people and institutions in most dire need in the wake of the storm. Of the $100 million that Qatar donated, $17.5 million went to the Qatar Katrina Fellowship Fund and College of Pharmacy, which went to Xavier University. $5 million was established for scholarships for students affected by the hurricane, with the remaining $12.5 million was donated to finance a 60,000 square foot expansion to the College of Pharmacy facilities. This expansion would provide construction jobs and make it possible for the university to increase enrollment.
The college receives about 1,000 applications each year for a first-year class that has grown from 120 students at the time of Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion’s dedication, to 155; for a total enrollment of more than 600 in the fall of 2018. The Qatar Pharmacy Pavilion also has laboratories with the latest equipment. These facility upgrades allowed Xavier to have competitive footing with their local counterparts Louisiana State University (LSU) and Tulane University.
Xavier scientists will be collaborating with their counterparts from those institutions because the three institutions are partners in the Louisiana Cancer Research Center. As the only HBCU in the consortium, Xavier is able to broaden the representation of communities of color and serve as a powerful equalizer in health disparities.
July 15 marks World Skills Day for Youth. 1.2 billion people between the ages of 15 and 24 make up 16% of the world’s population. The UN’s sustainable development goals require citizen participation from all age groups. Young people, as the decision-makers of the future, play an enormous role in this citizen participation. Young people are the key to building sustainable, just, inclusive and stable societies in order to avoid or address the threats of tomorrow. These include climate change, unemployment, poverty, gender equality, global conflicts, and exponential migration.
However, young people between 15 and 24 years of age are three times more likely to be exposed to unemployment than adults. In addition, they are continually exposed to lower quality jobs, greater labor market inequalities and longer and less secure school-to-work transitions.
Going further, women between the ages of 15 and 24 are more likely to be underemployed and underpaid and to work part-time or on temporary contracts.
Silatech, a non-profit company in Qatar, has a mission to include and connect young people around the world, especially in the workplace. Silatech provides innovative solutions in the field of youth employment. The company works with national, regional and international partners to provide financial, technical and operational contributions to young people who wish to develop their skills and employment opportunities.
In an interview between Forbes and Ms. Sabah Al-Haidoos – CEO of Silatech, on 29 January 2019, Ms. Al-Haidoos elaborated on the scope of Silatech’s work, the importance of the role of young people in the world and their values: “Without economic and social empowerment of young people after graduating high school, education won’t be as useful. Investing in innovative educational solutions and tools at the grassroots level is a worthwhile venture because it is the conduit to economic opportunities when all enabling factors align. (…) We also work with partner organizations that believe in our mission to empower and inspire youth to transform their lives for the better and lead the change in their communities. ”
The current challenge regarding youth employment is the central point of the organization’s values. Silatech believes that it is necessary to educate society on this global problem, to achieve the development of a political strategy for governments. In addition, Silatech proposes to launch media campaigns to encourage and support innovative and innovative employment methods for young people, but also for companies.
Amir Berbić, a design expert who has worked in the United States, Europe and the Middle East, has been named Dean of VCUarts Qatar. Berbić, a professor of graphic design at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has served as associate dean for faculty affairs of the College of Architecture, Design, and the Arts; chair of graphic design; and as acting director of the School of Design. Prior to working at the University of Illinois, Berbić was a faculty member of the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
“It’s a pleasure to welcome Amir Berbić to VCUarts Qatar. I am confident the university’s legacy of groundbreaking innovation and creativity will continue with Dean Berbić as leader. I look forward to working with him for years to come,” said VCU President Michael Rao, Ph.D.
In addition to working at universities, Berbić has collaborated with cultural organizations, arts institutions and publishers. His work has been recognized in several renowned publications, conferences and exhibitions including Design Issues, International Council of Design, and AIGA Design Educators Community. His work is featured in the permanent collection of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Berbić was born in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and moved to the United States in the 1990s. He holds an MFA in visual communication from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a BFA in graphic design from the University of Illinois at Chicago. “VCUarts Qatar is nimble, dynamic, experimental, and it is a lab for innovative ideas that emerge out of research, teaching and student initiatives within a very unique environment. I am inspired by the cooperation between VCU and Qatar Foundation to establish a world-class arts institution in the Gulf — one that responds to the local context while having global impact,” said Berbić.
VCUarts Qatar is the Qatar campus of the prestigious Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts located in Richmond, Virginia. It was established in 1998 in a partnership with Qatar Foundation, and was the first campus established in Education City located in Doha. Since then, it has been joined by campuses of several prestigious American Universities, including Texas A&M University at Qatar, Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar and Georgetown University Qatar.
The vision of VCUarts Qatar is “to contribute to the vitality of human, social, economic and environmental development in Qatar and the region through creative innovation, expression and collaboration.”
VCUarts Qatar offers students the opportunity to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in fashion design, graphic design, interior design and painting & printmaking, a Bachelor of Arts degree in art history and a Master of Fine Arts degree in design. In 2010, the university doubled its facitlities through a major expansion project, and added a media lab, digital fabrication lab, printmaking studios, photography studio, an expanded library and the first materials library in the region.
(Image Source: VCUArts – Qatar)
On Tuesday, the Qatar-America Institute hosted a reception celebrating the work of Doha Debates, a program of the Qatar Foundation dedicated to discussing major global issues. Guests included employees of Doha Debates, Qatar Foundation, and Washingtonians interested in the hard-hitting, groundbreaking discussions Doha Debates organizes.
In February, Doha Debates held a discussion on the global refugee crisis, featuring Douglas Murray, Marc Lamont Hill, and Muzoon Almellehan. Its most recent debate centered around the risks and opportunities surrounding the rise of artificial intelligence, and featured Nick Bostrom, Joy Buolamwini, Dex Torricke-Barton, and Muthoni Wanyoike.
The event featured remarks by Amjad Atallah, the managing director for Doha Debates and former bureau chief for the Americas for Al Jazeera.
Qatar University jumped 56 places in the annual World University Rankings published by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS). In the 2020 rankings, QU places 276, becoming one of the most improved universities in the world.
The President of Qatar University, Dr. Hassan Al-Derham, stated, “This is a staggering jump and one we are all immensely proud of as it reflects the success of our direction and our strategy. We are committed to transforming higher education in Qatar by proactively playing a leading role in shaping and enabling the transformation of the nation’s higher education system. We are honored by the recognition that comes along with placements such as this one, which opens up opportunities for our students, faculty and community.”
The institution was established as the College of Education in 1973, and later expanded to Qatar University in 1977. QU was founded with new colleges; Education, Humanities & Social Sciences, Sharia, Law & Islamic Studies, and Science. With the country’s rapid development, there has been an increased need for growth in Qatari higher education. As the university expanded, new schools including Business, Medicine, and Engineering were added. In 2017, the university introduced a five-year strategy complying with the aspirations of Qatar National Vision 2030.
Today, Qatar University is one of the region’s leading higher education institutions, with over 20,000 students and an extraordinary group of over 2,000 prestigious faculty. QU’s mission is to promote Qatar’s national heritage and values, and to educate and prepare students to become future leaders of Qatar.
Qatar National Library (QNL) opened in 2018. The establishment of the library is a continuation of the Qatari government’s commitment to promote education and pivot to a knowledge-based economy. With its prominent universities such as Qatar University and Hamad Bin Khalifa University, the peninsular country has become a leading hub of research and education in the Middle East. QNL adds to the prestigious list of educational and cultural institutions.
Qatar National Library is located in Doha’s Education City, home of the campuses of some of the world’s leading universities. The project of establishing a national library was announced in 2012. The grand opening ceremony was held on 16th April 2018. With over one million books and 500,000 digital editions, QNL now has the largest collection in the Middle East.
The library’s state of the art building was designed by world-renowned architect Rem Koolhaas. The 45,000-square-meter building provides a community space for exchange of ideas and learning. It also features a 120-seat auditorium for special events. The mission of Qatar National Library is to preserve the nation’s and region’s heritage and enable the people of Qatar to positively influence society by creating an exceptional environment for learning and discovery.
Despite the illegal blockade imposed on Qatar, Qatar National Library was able to increase its collection to have the largest in the area. Since its opening, QNL has collaborated with libraries outside the region and has hosted over 1,000 events, many featuring authors and scholars from Europe and North America.
Lone Star College, Texas, just received a donation of $300,000 from the Qatar Harvey Fund (QHF). The purpose of this donation was to provide financial aid through scholarships to students impacted by the Hurricane Harvey.
“The goal became to create scholarship funds that would allow students to continue their education or give them an opportunity to enroll at a university,” said Stephen Head, Chancellor of Lone Star College.
The category 4 hurricane interrupted many students’ studies and impacted their finances. 300 students will be able to return to school thanks to scholarships from the Qatar Harvey Fund. Scholarships will be available to students in the fall and winter of 2020. In addition, students will receive financial support for mental and emotional health services, tuition and other education-related costs.
“We have heard so much about the negative ripple effect of Hurricane Harvey on the communities of southeast Texas. The damage goes far beyond physical damage and people are still recovering from the enormous financial burden that caused so many to stop or delay their education in order to meet urgent needs,” said His Excellency Sheikh Meshal bin Hamad Al-Thani, Qatar’s Ambassador to the U.S.
QHF has donated $3,25 million Texas’ colleges in 2019 alone to assist students impacted by the Hurricane. Qatar pledges to give $30 million to help the people of Texas to recover from Hurricane Harvey.
(Image Source: Community Impact )
As part of the annual Aggie Service-Learning Experience, eighteen Texas A&M at Qatar students volunteered in Laos for nine days. The students engaged with country’s culture, stayed with host families, learned the Lao language, and visited local religious sites.
“I wanted to help guide the students through this trip in a way they can gain culturally as well as personally. But I found that at the same time I can learn so much from the participants and that was a rewarding experience.” -Abdulkarim Mohamed
“I wanted to become a leader to improve my communication skills and enhance my problem-solving abilities. In this experience I gained lessons in both intercultural connection and compassion.” -Aisha Al-Naemi
As part of the service program, students also hosted a blood drive, participated in an autism walk, organized beach clean-ups, and volunteered at the Qatar Animal Welfare Society.
(Image Source: Texas A&M)