By Mayshad Mag
Mayshad Magazine is an advocacy platform for empowerment which mainly focuses on empowering women, raising awareness and exploring a contemporary lifestyle.
1-Could you please tell us about yourself and what inspires you on a day to day basis?
I first joined Reach Out To Asia(ROTA) – currently a program of Education Above All, in 2009, as the programme’s Executive Director.
My ultimate goal is to implement the strategic course set by our leadership. During my tenure, I have led a variety of initiatives in 15 countries across Asia and MENA, including Indonesia, Pakistan, Nepal, Palestine, and Lebanon, as well as in Qatar itself. These projects typically involve educational leadership and teacher training, as well as sports, environmental and skills development.
Being part of ROTA’s working environment is truly an exceptional experience. I am proud and humbled to be working on a daily basis with a dedicated and passionate team who have truly enriched my professional journey and inspire me on a day to day basis with their resilience and determination to overcome any potential challenge together. Working with ROTA is never repetitive nor dull. With such diverse projects, varied partners and numerous beneficiaries, the thrill is constant and brings a sense of excitement, thus avoiding any feeling of routine.
2- What is your vision of social innovation and change for millennials in action?
In ROTA we keep this in heart in many aspects of our work. Our efforts gravitate around the youth with our constant and evident focus on developing their capacities in many areas such as leadership and addressing community needs. We even go as far as reach out to regional levels of empowering the youth with skills and knowledge on how to become actively engaged and change agent in the humanitarian action needs in the MENA region.
Here we are quite fortunate to be working for and alongside a large cohort of millennials in the implementation of many activities and community-based programmes. In my experience, millennials bring a great deal of creativity and compassion to their work, whilst effectively embracing new technologies. They tend to cast a fresh eye over our projects and see beyond the parameters of the non-profit world. They consequently have the ability to drive social innovation in new and exciting ways.
This is essentially why our vision is truly focused on empowering millennials with platforms to articulate their voices and giving them access to resources and guidance in order to enable them to take action that leads to positive social change. The ultimate goal is to effectively engage with millennials and invest time, energy and resources in their potential which is undeniably vital for meaningful development and progress.
On another note, however, whilst millennials constitute the majority of the current workforce, and it is imperative to continue investing in them, we would be remiss if we do not look to the future of a generation
3- What would you define as meaningful education goals?
Educational Goals are statements that describe the competencies, skills, and attributes that learners should possess upon completion of a course, intervention or programme. They often operate within the interacting domains of knowledge, skills, and attitudes.
ROTA works in support of the globally recognized and agreed upon Educational Goals. In 2015, all Member States of the United Nations formally adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit, in New York. The agenda contains 17 goals, including one that Is specifically related to global education.
The Sustainable Development Goal 4 is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” and has seven targets associated with it allowing progress to be measured and guiding the means of implementation.
There are specific aspects of the goal that ROTA finds significant such as focusing on achieving quality education; in other terms meaning that all children should leave school with at least the basic skills needed to function well in today’s society. We, in ROTA, also believe that the renewed focus on secondary school students and youth – through targets 4.3 and 4.4 related to technical and vocational education and work skills – are critical since not enough attention has been paid to young people beyond primary school education.
As a matter of fact, according to the UN, enrolment in primary education in developing countries has reached 91 percent but 57 million primary age children remain out of school. Additionally, 617 million youth worldwide lack basic mathematics and literacy skills. Whilst great progress has been made, it is imperative that we keep focusing on the targets related to education.
4- What role does education play in development?
Education is a vital investment for both human and economic developments and is influenced by the environment within which it exists. Changes in technology, labor market patterns, and general global environment all require policy responses.
Since ROTA works in development with marginalized communities, one of our core focus is Education as we know that Education is a long-term suitable solution to development needs in marginalized communities. Education is the arm shield that beneficiaries would use to become active members of their communities, whilst being able to serve others and boost their society and economy levels. In simpler words, there is a huge difference between giving people charity and empowering people with the tools they need to change their lives and become active agents of positive change; and Education is one, if not the most, powerful tool.
5- How would you say you are contributing to creating a better future for today’s leaders?
To begin with, all of ROTA’s programs, both locally and internationally, target children and youth from 18 to 30 years old. Hence, we believe that we are definitely contributing to creating a better future for tomorrow’s future leaders.
Moreover, not every beneficiary would be a leader, in the “leaders” wide terminology sense of the word and stereotypical manner. We believe that leaders could be leaders on a smaller scale, such as leaders of their smaller groups and circles of influence as in their families, schools, universities and wider communities.
Here at ROTA, we aim to create a better future by investing in the education of Today’s leaders. Our vision is explicitly focused on achieving a world in which all young people have access to the education they need in order for them to reach their full potential and shape the development of their communities. Providing tens of thousands of children with a relevant and high-quality education is the best way we can ensure that the leaders among them have the opportunity to create a better future for us all.
One of the most effective ways to achieve a better future for tomorrow’s leader is through our volunteerism policy. In ROTA, we vividly encourage volunteerism in Qatar. For the last 10 years, there has been (Number) of registered volunteers in ROTA networks that are actively engaged in many local and international activities where their leadership skills are sharpened and practiced.
ROTA also runs MYCHA, which equips the youth with skills and networks enabling them to become action players in the humanitarian field, therefore setting them up to be active members and positive change agents. The youth thus demonstrate their leadership skills and learn how to plan and execute humanitarian projects benefiting themselves, others in need.
We sincerely believe that if all of today’s leaders shared the vision of investing in quality education for everyone, then we could all look forward to a brighter future altogether.
6- If you had one empowering message you could share with our Mayshad community, what would it be?
Education Above All Foundation’s Programme Reach Out To Asia (ROTA), has been committed to working within global humanitarian frameworks to empower young people to become effective in developing actors around the world. We, in ROTA, firmly believe in a world where every young person has access to the education they need, in order for them to fulfill their potential and help drive change in their communities.
Great changes require even greater patience, perseverance, and commitment. But they also require team effort. We must all coordinate efforts, and work hand in hand as one big community, for a sustainable and bigger future for us all. We should all be committed to this cause, and act upon them to make a change. Our humanitarian actions plan our present and our future.
I hope to inspire and motivate people not only act but also to recognize their potential as effective agents of positive change. This is not just ROTA’s cause, it’s everyone’s. We all have a part in this and we all have the power to change things for the better.