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Education Above All Foundation and Silatech Host Series of Events at UNGA calling for children and youth empowerment to accelerate pursuit of SDGs

23th September 2023, New York– Education Above All (EAA) Foundation, a leading global education foundation, and Silatech, an international development organisation, hosted four major side events  to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), at the 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

The events brought together over 400 leaders, experts, youth, and academics, and highlighted the importance of funding education, remote work, climate change education, and AI, in providing marginalised and vulnerable communities around the world with opportunities to improve their lives. Together, these events have made significant contributions to advancing several SDGs in developing countries, including SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure), and SDG 13 (Climate Action).

The events were:

  • “The Precarious Role of AI in the Effort to Provide Inclusive, Equitable Access to Higher Education for the Most Marginalised”, hosted by EAA Foundation’s Al Fakhoora programme, the Qatar Fund for Development, and the International Institute of Higher Education, 15 September 2023.

Notable speakers included the University of the Andes (Colombia), Rutgers University and Schmidt Futures, and Jeffrey D. Sachs from the Centre for Sustainable Development, Canada. Professor Sachs emphasised that the biggest hurdle to universal education was a lack of funding, and stated: “Education is the paramount investment for society. Listen to Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser: ‘Education Above All.’ Mean it.”

  • “Investing in climate change and education for a greener future,” hosted by EAA Foundation’s Reach Out To Asia (ROTA) Programme and Silatech on 16 September 2023.

Speakers included Mr Ahmed Mohammed Al Sada, Assistant Undersecretary for Environmental Affairs, Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, Qatar; Mr Ayman Cherkaaui, Director, Mohammed VI Foundation for Environment Protection Kingdom of Morocco; Mr. Asif Saleh, Executive Director, BRAC;  Mr. Birihgton Kaoma, Global Director, SDSN Youth; Ms. Setafnia Giannini, Assistant Director-General for Education UNESCO; Mr. Taha Bawa, Co-founder and CEO, Goodwall; Mr. Kevin Frey, CEO, Generation Unlimited, UNICEF and Ms. Vicky Aridi, Program Manager, Youth Economic Opportunities, 2030.

According to UNICEF’s Frey: “Climate education needs to culminate in young people taking climate action.” He stressed that knowledge should be a catalyst for tangible, youth-driven initiatives in the fight against climate change. This was supported by Mr. Asif Saleh who commented, “In every young leader lies the potential to drive change.”

Outcomes and recommendations from this session included: transparent financing for climate change education; direct funding for local youth groups and green entrepreneurs (ecopreneurs); reduction of costs for technological tools, and public-private-non government-youth partnerships; engaging youth as key stakeholders in decision and policy-making related to climate change education; and identifying innovative solutions that recognize local and indigenous knowledge.

  • “Unlocking Potential: The Power of Remote Work in Economically Empowering Vulnerable Youth”, hosted by Silatech in collaboration with the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Permanent Mission of Qatar to the United Nations on 17 September 2023.

This High-Level Panel advocated for the recognition and mainstreaming of remote work and freelancing as decent work and career innovations. Keynote Speakers included Special Representative of the ILO to the UN, Ms Cynthia Samuel-Olonjuwon, Islamic Solidarity Fund for Development Director General, Dr. Hiba Ahmed, BRAC Executive Director Asif Saleh, Microsoft, Global UN, and International Development Lead, Alexandre Pinho and UNICEF Generation Unlimited Brazil beneficiary Winner Happy de Assis Cajueiro.

The session recommended that remote work be recognized and mainstreamed and that vulnerable communities should have support to access remote work opportunities, also calling on the private sector to invest in infrastructure and technology to support remote work and put in place online security safeguards.

  • Elevating Education as a Win-Win for the SDGs”, by EAA Foundation, at the SDG Pavilion on 19 September 2023.

EAA Foundation’s CEO Fahad Al-Sulaiti unpacked efforts by stakeholders to unlock the potential of young people to thrive in the future world of work and bridge the digital divide using tools to improve learning and increase capacities to navigate the future. Participants included HE David Sengeh, Chief Minister Sierra Leone, Former Minister of Education, SDG4 High-Level Steering & Transforming Education Summit Advisory Committee Co-Chair, Mr. Robert Jenkins, Global Director, Education and Adolescent Development, UNICEF, Dr. Luis Benveniste, Global Director for Education, World Bank, and Dr. Hiba Ahmed, Director General, ISFD, Mr. Marcos Neto, Director of Sustainable Finance Hub, UNDP, and Manos Antoninis, Director of the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report, among others.

Roundtable discussants acknowledged the EAA Foundation’s contribution and importance and ongoing work supporting education in the developing world. The discussions emphasized the need for innovative solutions in education financing, including community involvement, private-sector partnerships, and exploring new funding sources.

Each event included clear outcomes that the partners would take forward. Follow-up meetings will be held at the WISE Summit, a biennial event fostering innovation in education, to be held in Doha, Qatar, on 28-29 November 2023.

Silatech and BRAC partner to promote self-employment through financial inclusion for 684,000 youth in Bangladesh

New York, 17 September 2023 – Silatech has announced a partnership with BRAC, the world’s largest development organization, to promote youth income generation through financial inclusion and unlock access to finance for 684,212 youth in Bangladesh to become self-employed.

The project, Unlocking Financial Solutions for Youth Enterprise Development was signed on the sidelines of the 78th edition of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York today.

It aims to address the lack of access to traditional financing resources for the youth of Bangladesh who seek to sustain, start, or expand their income-generating ventures.

Over the course of three years, the project will provide financing products to young people who do not have access to traditional banking services. Moreover, it will offer financial literacy and entrepreneurial training programs to enhance the sustainability of their ventures and improve the financial literacy and capabilities of youth entrepreneurs.

The lack of access to formal financing is a significant challenge for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Bangladesh, with the World Bank estimating a financing gap of US$2.8 billion. This gap is particularly pronounced for women-led SMEs, as 60 percent of them lack collateral.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated these challenges, leading to reduced income, job loss, and limited financial access for youth. The project seeks to bridge this financial gap and create meaningful economic opportunities for young people and their families.

“By promoting youth income generation through financial inclusion and empowering Bangladesh’s youth, we are confident that this project will significantly improve their livelihoods, create more employment opportunities within their ventures, and drive sustainable economic growth. Bangladesh has a huge youth population with few opportunities as it is the densest country in the world, and we are excited to partner with BRAC, the world’s largest development organization to help reduce the suffering of many youths due to lack of access to financial solutions” said Hassan Al Mulla, Silatech CEO.

Asif Saleh, the Executive Director of BRAC said, “BRAC believes in the power of youth to drive economic growth. We are extending microfinance services and combining it with financial literacy, and entrepreneurship training to young entrepreneurs from marginalized backgrounds. Our client-centric approach ensures tailored financial products, while mentorship and capacity building would help the young entrepreneurs fuel the growth of their businesses. We are excited to be partnering with Silatech in testing this innovative model to support young entrepreneurs in Bangladesh. This will help us not only to design more effective products but also understand and manage risks better.”

This partnership marks an important step towards youth economic empowerment and creating a more equitable and prosperous future for disadvantaged communities.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Qatar, Silatech and the World Health Organization hold high-level side event at the United Nations General Assembly to accelerate work on the projected global shortage of health workers

The event concluded with participants agreeing to invest in human capital in the global health sector

New York, 22 September, 2019

Silatech and the World Health Organization have partnered with the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Qatar hosted a high-level strategy event and panel discussion on the margins of the UN General Assembly to accelerate action on the projected global shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030.

The high-level event, “Investing in education, skills and jobs in the health sector,” was attended by ministers of health, economy and development, representatives of governments, international development organizations, United Nations organizations, health-care representatives, international financial institutions and permanent representatives to the United Nations. Each stressed in their contributions that investment in healthcare would help achieve global economic and social development.

HE. Mr. Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, former President of Liberia and Nobel laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Norwegian Minister of Health Mr. Bent Høie.

HE. Mr. Soltan bin Saad Al-Muraikhi, the State Minister for Foreign Affairs, said at the outset of his speech that: “Qatar’s aspiration has been and remains a leading role in contributing to the achievement of the sustainable development goals at the local, regional and international level, and by providing effective support in the face of humanitarian and economic challenges and crises, and that it works in solidarity with international efforts aimed at promoting security and peace and ensuring a decent life for people.”

“I appreciate the efforts of the WHO in its active pursuit for this challenge and in taking deliberate and comprehensive steps, mobilizing attention to finding solutions to reduce the impact of this challenge in real time and address it in the future, and I welcome the cooperation that you have with Silatech in the “Working for Health” programme, which aims at achieving about 1.9 million jobs in 2022 in Africa, and which will also contribute to providing workforce for the health sector, it will also provide employment opportunities for young men and women and will drive economic development forward.”

The opening session was followed by a panel discussion that included the CEO of Silatech, Ms. Sabah El-Haidoos, the Director General of the World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Gebreisos, Vice President of the European Investment Bank, Mr. Ambroise Fayol, Mr. Mohamed Ali Pate, Director of the International Finance Unit for Women, Children and Adolescents of the World Bank. Speakers at this session highlighted the importance of promoting education and skills development for young people in the health sector, especially women.

Ms. Sabah El-Haidoos, the CEO of Silatech spoke about the ambitious plans that Silatech has put in place to train and develop young people to help bridge the health worker gap: “It is through Silatech’s operating model of working with a multitude of partners including governments, private sector, NGOs, international multilateral and bilateral organisations, with each partner bringing unique resources, insights and solutions that we’ve been able to create over 1.4 million jobs for youth in 17 countries to date, and we have committed to creating with our partners over 5 million jobs in total by the end of 2022.”

“Working with WHO on the Working for Health Programme was a very organic extension to the work we do. The partnership with the ‘Working for Health’ programme is based on our interest in providing quality training and education to fill the health worker gap and increase the output of qualified doctors, nurses, midwives and other healthcare workers. We are in solidarity with the World Health Organization in supporting the program’s objectives in improving access to quality health and social care services, providing decent employment that is essential to poverty eradication, promoting social cohesion and stability and achieving prosperity.” Ms. Al Haidoos added.

Participants at the event agreed to find creative ways to train health workers and better coordination between all stakeholders.

In this regard, the WHO director general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that the health workforce is an essential key to achieve universal health coverage.

“The current 18 million gap shows that there’s a serious problem which has to be tackled and to address this problem, there has to be solutions including training in big numbers, with quality and retaining them. The training must be provided fast and it should be done in innovative ways.” Ghebreyesus added.

The former president of Liberia H.E Ms. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf echoed Dr. Tedros’s sentiment by adding, “If we do not bridge the 18 million health worker gap, it would mean that we miss out on 18 million opportunities for economic empowerment and dignified employment, and we cannot let this happen”.

Johnson Sirleaf added, “To achieve the commitments of Universal Health Care, it is necessary to invest in health workforce and the primary health care systems that support them. This requires long term innovative financial investments that cover high capital costs. One way to do this is to engage international financial institutions and philanthropic foundations as key partners to co-invest alongside governments in the education and employment of healthcare workers.”

The Norwegian Minister of Health H.E Mr. Bent Høie stressed the urgency of spending on health workforce training as it a key to achieving Universal Health Coverage.

“We have to invest more in health workers and change the narrative. Spending on education and skills of health workers is not a cost, it’s an investment with high returns and a driver for wellbeing and health for all, for gender equality, for growth and decent work. The health sector is increasingly becoming an important entry point for women into the formal labor market. The investment in health and social sector will directly and indirectly lead to improvements in women and children health.”

The high-level side event underscored the fact that spending on the education and skills of the health workforce is an investment with tremendous benefits. These would replicate and go on to help achieve several Sustainable Development Goals, the third goal “good health and well-being”, the fourth goal “quality education”, the fifth goal “gender equality” and the eighth goal “decent work and economic growth.”