Gaza Strip, 22 March 2022 – The United Nations Development Programme and Education Above All (EAA) Foundation, through its programme Al Fakhoora, organized, in partnership with Al Nayzak Organization for Supportive Education and Scientific Innovation, the first conference of its kind in Gaza that is headed, designed, and presented by youth. The INSPIRE2022 conference is the third of the annual series that aims to empower youth towards positive change and play an active role in their communities.
Under the theme: “Confusion to Clarity: Preparing for Uncertain Futures”, the third annual conference was held on 22 March 2022 as a hybrid event in light of the circumstances presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. The theme this year was a result of several meetings with the leading youth team of INSPIRE. Fostering a “giving back” approach, approximately 600 youth, as well as community leaders and representatives of local and international organizations attended the conference in person along with over 350 people virtually.
Mr Talal Al-Hothal, Director of Al Fakhoora Programme in Education Above All Foundation highlighted that INSPIRE was always a unique event. “The Youth has exceeded our expectations. INSPIRE is among the distinguished initiatives that were designed not only to serve Al Fakhoora programme but extended to serve the whole community”. Mr Al-Hothal continued by addressing the youth; “for three years, you continued to design an inspirational conference that reflects the level of inspiration in your hearts and minds. It is because of this success, Al Fakhoora programme exceeded the borders of Gaza to include other youth from the MENA region. We will continue to support the marginalized youth that live in conflict areas”.
The Al Fakhoora scholars led the conference along with their peers in Gaza. These young people played a key role in shaping the conference agenda and the leadership development of an inspirational road that engaged artists, intellectuals, young learners, and writers. Three small business ideas led by young entrepreneurs were also selected to showcase their work at the conference.
In her opening remarks, UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator, Ms Yvonne Helle, highlighted that Gaza has a fast-growing population, 22% of it is youth. However, without sufficient job prospects and a 71% unemployment rate among young graduates, it is a resource that will remain untapped. “INSPIRE is a safe platform created to harness and nurture young people’s creativity and potential and have their voices heard on issues related to social change, economic growth, employability, technological advancements, and mental health,” she added.
Prior to the conference, the young men and women from Gaza participated in the design of the discussion panels during a six-day boot camp. Five roundtable discussions were also organized engaging 200 academics, professionals, private sector, and NGO representatives, in addition to four virtual webinars that were attended live by over 250 people, along with 6,500 people offline via the webinar.
The young organizers were also heavily engaged in the development of policy papers focusing on the five focus areas presented at the panel sessions and moderated by Al Fakhoora alumni. The sessions addressed higher education as an engine of development or being a decorative action; skills as a drive for employability; entrepreneurship horizons and missing links; cryptocurrency being an opportunity or a challenge; and mental health for productivity. The panels engaged both prominent experts as well as Al Fakhoora scholars.
Engineer Aref Al Husseini, Founder, and Chairman of Al Nayzak Organization affirmed in his welcoming speech that the conference is the result of a long process of learning and reflection. “We have to believe in the capabilities of our youth and provide them with sources of knowledge and leave them to go through the experience alone. What young people can do and achieve, especially in this digital era, is much greater than what we can imagine. Perhaps we also, as digital immigrants, do not understand all the details the young generation does, who is considered a native to technology. I would like to thank UNDP, Al Fakhoora Scholarship and Empowerment Programme and Education Above All Foundation for their continuous efforts and cooperation in implementing this programme and supporting Palestinian youth,” Mr Al Husseini added.
The conference took place at Al Mashtal Hotel in Gaza and was attended by Mr Hani Shehada, Country Manager of EAA office; Yvonne Helle, UNDP Special Representative of the Administrator; Victor Munteanu, UNDP Head of Gaza Office, with the virtual presence of Talal Al-Hothal, Al Fakhoora Director of EAA and Mr Aref Al Husseini, Founder and Chairman of Al Nayzak Organization for Supportive Education and Scientific Innovation.
Notes to Editors:
Education Above All (EAA) Foundation
The Education Above All (EAA) Foundation is a global education foundation established in 2012 by Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. EAA envisions bringing hope and real opportunity to the lives of impoverished and marginalised children, youth, and women, especially in the developing world and in dire circumstances such as conflict situations and natural disasters. We believe that education is the single most effective means of reducing poverty, generating economic growth, and creating peaceful and just societies, as well as a fundamental right for all children and an essential condition to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). For more information, visit educationaboveall.org.
EAA is comprised of four programmes: Educate A Child (EAC), Al Fakhoora, Reach Out To Asia (ROTA), and Protect Education in Insecurity and Conflict (PEIC). In addition to providing access to education for children around the world, EAA advocates to safeguard inclusive and quality education for all.
Al Fakhoora, a programme of EAA, through Qatar Scholarship, works to ensure the right to education for youth in conflict-affected regions, particularly refugees and IDPs, through the provision of a holistic higher education model. Tapping into the potential of youth from the most fragile states, we equip and empower our beneficiaries with the transferrable skills needed to reach their full potential and contribute to post-conflict recovery, regardless of whether they decide to stay in their host communities, relocate, or repatriate.
We partner with local institutions to implement our multifaceted programmes, which integrate access to quality education with student support services and civic engagement, nurturing and supporting our beneficiaries from selection to graduation. Our goal is to unlock a new generation of marginalised youth to become educated, professionally skilled, civic-engaged individuals who inspire and guide their families and communities towards cohesion and prosperity.
About United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
UNDP is the leading United Nations organization fighting to end the injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change. Working with our broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries, we help nations to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and the planet. For more information, visit ps.undp.org.
About Al Nayzak
Al Nayzak is an Innovative Palestinian society organization, capable of producing original scientific knowledge, integrated with sustainable development since 2001. Al Nayzak aims to develop scientific, entrepreneurship, engineering and technological (STEEM) competencies of Palestinian youth and to provide promising socio-economic opportunities, through initiation, design and implementation of specialized programmes that create inspiring and motivating environments for incubation and excellence.