Posted on January 24, 2020

Highlighting the importance of youth voices in securing the protection of education for all children and youth, the Education Above All Foundation (EAA), founded by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, hosted Youth Talk ED 2.0, the inaugural event of ‘edvOcate,’ a campaign that cultivates and empowers youth to become advocates for education.

Through the campaign, youth are enabled to ensure their right to education is realized, and prioritized in local, national or regional agendas. Marking the upcoming International Day of Education, proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly, the event featured a panel discussion and art exhibition. Led by EAA’s law, policy and research advocacy program, Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC), the session focused on the need for a unified human rights-based approach to the right to education and ways in which creative mediums of advocacy for the right to education, particularly sports, art and youth-led research, can be deployed to empower communities and share awareness.

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“PEIC’s work in education advocacy is rooted in empowering and mobilizing communities, particularly youth,” said Maleiha Malik, executive director, PEIC. “We ensure that the right to education is discussed not only at high-level platforms but is also a fundamental priority powered at the grassroots level. edvOcate supports the global efforts of PEIC to break behavioral barriers in local communities and institutions through the transfer of knowledge and a solid set of advocacy skills in field-based workshops and engagements, with the goal of ensuring youth—as the right-holders—are not excluded from any opportunity of discourse or dialogue.”

The International Day of Education, officially observed on 24 January, seeks to position education– and the learning it enables– as humanity’s greatest renewable resource and reaffirm the role of education as a fundamental right and a public good. It celebrates the many ways learning can empower people, preserve the planet, build shared prosperity and foster peace.

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The panel discussion included insights and perspectives from education advocates and stakeholders who support the edvOcate campaign. The panel, focused on the need for a holistic approach to education, featured a discussion on how to develop a human rights-based approach that includes creative advocacy to protect the right to education. Moderated by Hana Elshehaby, EAA Youth Advocate, the panel featured speakers Dr. Reem Al Ansari, professor and director at the Rule of Law and Anti-Corruption Center; Dr. Ilias Bantekas, professor of international law, Hamad Bin Khalifa University; Danilo Padilla, senior education specialist, UNESCO Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Yemen Office; Nawaal Akram, Hamideh Dorzadeh, Noor Al Qaedi and Ahmed Ellenjawi, EAA Youth Advocates; Mohamed Al Muhannadi, Generation Amazing youth ambassador. Emphasizing the human rights-based approach, panelists highlighted the need to use different creative mediums through which youth can advocate for education, including nontraditional platforms such as sports, art, technology, data, music and fashion.

The event concluded with an interactive Q&A moderated by EAA Youth Advocate Ngoc Nguyen, and art exhibition led by EAA Youth Advocates Talia Adonis, Asna Siddiqui and Rodrigo Panameno, that expressed various barriers to education and the realities that many of the world’s most vulnerable communities confront day-to-day. “The cement in my art signifies not only the physical, but also the emotional and mental barriers that can entrap individuals who have been marginalized. I chose different types of footwear to represent the diverse walks of life that can be affected, as barriers do not discriminate,” said Adonis.