Education is a game changer which can change the whole world, said Malaysia’s Minister for Higher Education today in Putrajaya, the federal administrative centre of the country. Dato Seri Haji Idris Jusoh made his comments during his speech at the opening ceremony of the First International Conference for Enhancing Educational Opportunities.
Organised by the Kuala Lumpur-based International Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (IESCO), the conference is focusing on the provision of educational programmes and projects for students across the Middle East’s many conflict zones.
In her welcome speech, the Rector of the International Islamic University of Malaysia pointed out that this is for Palestinian students in particular. “Education is one of the most important forces in society,” stressed Professor Dato Sri Dr Zaleha Kamaruddin.
Speaking on behalf of the Palestinian Authority’s Minister of Education, Ambassador Dr Anwar Al-Agha pointed out that Palestinian children are deprived of the basic right to life as well as education. “The recent threat to UNRWA [by US President Donald Trump],” the ambassador pointed out, “will have a serious effect on the education of Palestinian children.” He noted that some Palestinian students in Jerusalem are under house arrest by the Israeli occupation authorities. A number, including 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi, are being held in prison after being tried by a military court. Israel is actually holding more than 300 Palestinian children in prison.
Delegates at the conference include researchers and academics, representatives of universities and educational institutes, entrepreneurs and humanitarian agencies with an involvement in education. Funds will be raised during the two-day programme to cover bursaries and research grants for students, capacity-building and job creation programmes. Underprivileged students and those with special educational needs will be a special focus of the fund-raising drive.
Closing his keynote speech with a call for Muslim solidarity on this important issue, Minister Idris Jusoh expressed his wish to redevelop the traditional Islamic institution of the Waqf (religious endowment body) in order to fund education and other social projects. “Muslim countries are neglecting this important institution,” he said. “I want to revive it.”