Shaikha Jawaher
Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi during her six-day visit to Pakistan Image Credit: Supplied

Islamabad: Governments and civil society must prioritise the education of the low-income and crises affected communities, the chairperson of Sharjah-based The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) has said.

The call came from Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi, who is also Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at UNHCR.

Her remarks were made during a six-day visit to Pakistan that began with attending the opening session of the ‘International Conference on 40 Years of Hosting Afghan Refugees in Pakistan’ organised by UNHCR and the government of Pakistan.

The visit, during which she was accompanied by an official delegation comprising UAE officials, concluded on Friday.

The visit entailed meetings with senior officials and staff of several educational and childcare institutions that target low-income families in the cities of Islamabad and Lahore. During the meetings, Shaikh Jawaher highlighted support mechanisms to align services with children’s educational and welfare needs.

Shaikha Jawaher visited Master Ayoub School in Islamabad, accompanied by Dr Firdous Awan, Special Assistant to the Pakistani Prime Minister; and Hamad Obaid Al Zaabi, UAE Ambassador to Pakistan. The delegation was received by the school’s principal and founder Mohammad Ayoub Khan and a number of students.

Since 1982, Ayoub has been offering open lectures and lessons to students from low-income families in an open public park square in the capital. A former fireman, Ayoub founded the school to alleviate the problems in Pakistani communities, which resulted from child abuse, exploitation and crime.

Shaikha Jawaher
Shaikha Jawaher Bint Mohammad Al Qasimi during her six-day visit to Pakistan

Shaikha Jawaher has lauded Ayoub’s efforts to help the segments of community who have dismal or no access to resources.

“Education symbolises hope for both individuals and societies, as it equips us with the power to overcome the biggest odds, bridges the development gap between nations, and makes every educated individual an equal partner in giving. Children’s education specifically is a basic human right, like the right to live,” she said.

Shaikha Jawaher also visited The Citizens Foundation, one of Pakistan’s leading non-profit organisations in the field of education for the less privileged and the Pakistan headquarters of SOS Children’s Villages.

During meetings with the non-profit’s officials, Shaikha Jawaher gained insights into their project planning and delivery mechanisms.

She concluded the six-day tour with a visit to Women Welfare Centre in Islamabad, where she was received by the board of directors, UNHCR representatives, girls and trainees.

At the end of the visit, Shaikha Jawaher thanked the Pakistani government for showing generosity to Afghani refugees for 40 years.