During this year’s FIFA World Cup, the Aga Khan Foundation’s (AKF) General Manager, Michael Kocher, moderated a session in the SDG Pavilion in Doha about the future of education and achieving SDG4 by 2030. The session – a dialogue between Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, President of Portugal, and Nana Akufo-Addo, President of Ghana – was hosted by the UN and Education Above All (EAA), one of AKF’s global education partners.
Ahead of their countries’ match that evening, both presidents – whilst in jovial competition – looked beyond the football tournament and united in their call for equal access to quality education to accelerate progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4).
In his opening remarks, Michael Kocher noted that, “We’re all here to celebrate football. But truly nothing is more important than how we can work better together to achieve SDG4, which calls on us collectively to achieve equitable and accessible quality education for all by 2030. To this end, today and looking ahead, it must surely be ‘Education Above All’.”
“We’re all here to celebrate football. But truly nothing is more important than how we can work better together to achieve SDG4, which calls on us collectively to achieve equitable and accessible quality education for all by 2030. To this end, today and looking ahead, it must surely be ‘Education Above All’.”
Michael Kocher – General Manager, AKF
The event was held as part of EAA’s ‘Scoring for the Goals’ campaign which has run throughout the World Cup in Qatar this year. The campaign calls on the world for more unity and solidarity across sectors and partners to achieve the SDGs together by the year 2030. The SDG Pavilion – where all EAA’s events are being hosted – was a real-world classroom designed for children who have been forcibly displaced in marginalised contexts. 50 similar structures were built in Qatar for the tournament and will be transported to selected countries around the world to help children learn. Similar multi-purpose learning structures have already been built in Pakistan, Syria and Turkey. The SDG Pavilion, therefore, provided a fitting venue for the event’s focus on advancing quality education for all by 2030.
Attendees of the event included Qatar’s Minister of Education and Higher Education, Her Excellency Ms. Buthaina bit Ali Al Jabr Al Nuaimi, representing Her Highness Sheikh Moza bint Nasser, the Chairperson of the Education Above All Foundation.
Her Excellency, Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, gave opening remarks for the event, stating, “[Sport] has the power to bring people together. It exemplifies the best of what we can be as a human race. Full of ambition, optimism, belief and indeed, full of effort, in the pursuit of a common goal. The key to unlocking our common goal to achieve all SDG targets surely lies with SDG4; ensuring quality education for all.”
Whilst their educational contexts differ, both presidents then echoed Her Excellency Mia Mottley’s sentiment that education is the key to driving forward development in all sectors around the world. His Excellency Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa noted that, “When we speak of equal and inclusive education, we speak of the future – humanity’s long-term vision about what is possible.” Meanwhile, His Excellency Nana Akufo-Addo emphasised that SDG4 is “a blueprint [for] how to build a better world together.”
To conclude their impassioned dialogue, the presidents of Ghana and Portugal exchanged football shirts of their respective teams and stood together in solidarity, despite the match ahead of them that evening. AKF was delighted to participate in the event and support its partner, EAA, to drive forward its ‘Scoring for the Goals’ campaign.
By bringing together world leaders and world-leading international development organisations, the event made it clear that there is an urgent need to accelerate our collective efforts to achieve quality education for all with increased partnership, commitment and action. AKF will play a key role in this; by strengthening its existing partnership with EAA to help out-of-school children globally, and through its flagship education programme, Schools2030, which will host the second annual Schools2030 Global Forum in Porto next June.