Education and the accumulation of knowledge has been fundamental to the rise of humanity and has since been prized as the key necessary pillar for an individual, or indeed a nation, to achieve economic independence through productivity.

Today, there are currently 1.8 billion young people aged between 10 and 24 years old in our World – the largest youth population to ever have existed.

However – alarmingly – education remains inaccessible to millions of these young people: 72 million children of primary age are not in school[1]; 759 million young adults are illiterate and do not have the access or opportunity to improve either their own living conditions or those of their children[2].

Accessible and inclusive education is pivotal to achieving sustainable development and plays a crucial role in supporting the progress of all Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by all United Nations Member States.

That’s why the theme of this year’s International Youth Day is Transforming Education: to highlight the efforts required, across the globe, to make education more “relevant, equitable and inclusive for all youth[3].  Since 2003, Community Jameel has been pioneering Education as a key development area to drive positive societal change and economic sustainability.

“Education is a tool for people to improve their lives and the lives of those around them[4],” Mohammed Jameel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Abdul Latif Jameel and founder of Community Jameel.

In 2017, Community Jameel and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) co-founded the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL).  J-WEL aims to spark a global renaissance in education for all learners and to serve as an incubator for change in education at MIT, and around the world.  Its approach is to bring together educators, technologists, policymakers, and society’s leaders to address global challenges in education through online and in-person collaborations, workshops, and conferences.

MIT President Rafael L. Reif acknowledged J-WEL’s role in helping MIT “carry out the biggest aspiration we have – to educate as many people in the world as possible”.

Speaking at the fourth semi-annual J-WEL Week event in April 2019, Professor Hazel Sive, J-WEL Higher Education Faculty Director, commented:

“Even at this early stage of J-WEL, we are spread across the globe.  And that is truly inspirational, and it truly makes for a global education initiative that is rich and is extraordinary, and I think is really quite unique.”

In 2018, J-WEL and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) announced a major initiative tackling strained education systems across the Middle East, due to the Syria conflict, working with  Save the Children’s global education team to strengthen the capacity of teachers.

J-WEL, drawing on support from MIT and Community Jameel, and Save the Children experts spent more than a year developing a high quality, coordinated, teacher professional development program that addresses both teacher well-being and teaching quality for those in need of additional support. The ambition for the collaboration between Save the Children and J-WEL is to deliver a pilot program that can then be adapted and scaled in other emergency contexts.

Speaking about the initiative, Hassan Jameel, President of Community Jameel Saudi Arabia, affirmed the commitment to transforming education across the Middle East, commenting:

“Community Jameel sees education as a tool for people to improve their lives and the lives of those around them. This is what perfectly ties the work of Community Jameel, J-WEL and Save the Children in this project.[5]

[1] https://www.unicef.org/factoftheweek/index_45364.html

[2] https://www.humanium.org/en/right-to-education/

[3] https://www.un.org/development/desa/youth/news/2019/04/iyd-2/

[4] https://www.alj.com/en/news/j-wel-celebrates-year-promoting-excellence-education/

[5] https://www.alj.com/en/news/abdul-latif-jameel-world-education-lab-mit-save-children-come-together-tackle-refugee-education-crisis-middle-east/