Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, Chairperson of The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF) and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has stressed that well informed individuals equipped with knowledge and sciences are the strong foundation that advances communities. Her Highness said that Sharjah has reinforced its humanitarian role by embracing all those who have lost the opportunity to learn for reasons beyond their control, by providing educational centres with specialised curricula aimed at honing skill sets and capacities to enable them to become key player in their communities.
Her Highness’s remarks came during a recent visit to ‘The Big Heart Educational Center’, founded in 2019 to provide access to knowledge and professional empowerment for children and adults who had to leave school and flee their home countries because of conflicts and crises.
Her Highness toured the various departments, classes, vocational training centres and other capacity building facilities at the center and was briefed on its work in providing effective educational solutions for children and youth and appraised of the forthcoming plans for developing its curricula and processes.
Her Highness met with students at the center to understand their needs and emphasized the keenness of TBHF in supporting their education and equipping them with personal and professional skills to make them self-sufficient to help overcome the trauma of conflict and forced displacement and facilitate their return to mainstream education.
Her Highness said: “The launch of ‘The Big Heart Educational Center’ reflects the noble values embedded in the culture of the UAE to support those in need, especially to provide them with access to sound education which is a key driver of community development, advancement and stability. This is what we learnt from Sharjah, and this is how we utilize it to serve those in need, at the local or international levels.”
Addressing the students, Her Highness continued: “TBHF launched this center to help you make up for disruptions you have experienced in your education in your home countries. We believe that it is never too late to learn, and that education can help lessen the gap and compensate, in part, for what was lost. We have confidence in your ability to excel. Shaping your own destinies through education will send a message and highlight to the world what victims can achieve of in the face of hate and conflicts. We will help you fulfil your dreams because Sharjah is a beacon of humanity, knowledge, and culture and because the emirate’s developmental project is founded on the values of respect for human dignity and rights, from wherever they may be.”
Her Highness pointed out that the milestone accomplishments of the UAE in enhancing education and skills development have served as a catalyst for societal institutions and organizations to contribute to supporting an inclusive educational development journey for all; especially for families who have endured hardships in their countries that have abruptly put a stop to their children’s education.
Her Highness thanked the staff of the educational center for their efforts and dedication in helping the students and thanked the students for their commitment and determination to continue their education and advance their capabilities. Her Highness said: “Education is a fundamental human right and every child has the right to obtain education and knowledge. We – in Sharjah and the UAE, are fully aware of this right and are committed to fulfilling it, even if you have been deprived of your education in your home countries. We also believe that every individual who feels a sense of belonging to the society where he and his family lives, also has a duty to commit to learning and education. I hope that you will all live up to this responsibility.”
Her Highness highlighted the detrimental impact of the lack of educational incubators on individuals, families, and the society, and affirmed the need for greater collaboration and support between various societal and institutional entities to spearhead similar sustainable initiatives as part of their corporate and national social responsibilities. Her Highness also lauded Al Tunaiji Real Estate for donating the plot for building the center.
Her Highness said that since the founding of the country, the UAE had focused on education as a developmental priority to empower generations, successfully advance society, and promote values of sustainable development. Her Highness added that not many countries with a similar wealth of resources had succeeded in serving their people in an equitable manner, attributing it to the vision of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who said: “Wealth is not money. Wealth lies in men. This is where true power lies, the power we value. This is what has convinced us to direct all our resources to build the individual, and to use the wealth in the service of the nation.”
During the visit, Her Highness emphasized the importance of teaching the Arabic language to children in the proper manner as learning the mother tongue is an integral part of the Arabic identity. Knowledge of more languages would further support in securing greater job opportunities and in communicating effectively with communities around the world. However, the first language would always remain the authentic communication tool for any community, Her Highness said.
At the end of the visit, Her Highness directed TBHF to place additional focus on music and sports at the center and to follow up on the progress of students in these disciplines as it adds immense value in nurturing the multi-faceted talents of the youth.
Her Highness was accompanied by H.E. Dr. Muhadditha Al Hashimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Private Education Authority; Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF; and H.E. Noura Al Noman, Director of the Executive Office of Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, during the visit.
The ‘Big Heart Educational Center’
‘The Big Heart Educational Center’, which was launched in partnership with UAE-based Rawafed Development and Learning Center, is situated on a 6,000 sqm plot of land in the Al Yarmouk areas and is equipped with tools, equipment, and qualified cadre.
The center targets beneficiaries in two categories in the 10 – 26 age group. The first one comprises children and adults who had to leave school at an early age and flee their conflict-ridden home countries with their families in search of peace. They benefit from remedial courses and learning assistance at the center, whose curriculum is designed to get admission in appropriate grades in UAE schools.
The second category targets 18+ individuals who either completed high school but did not have the financial resources to go to college or do not have a school education and require training to enter the job market. They come to the TBHF Educational Center to undergo vocational training and acquire the skillsets required to succeed in the job market.