You are here

Voices of resilience, Palestinian perspectives echo at WISE

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Nov 29,2023 - Last updated at Nov 29,2023

Athar Ahmad, a recipient of the ‘Qatar Scholarship’ from Gaza, shared her experience as a survivor of four wars, in utilizing the ‘transformative’ power of education to mitigate the effects of trauma (Photo courtesy of WISE)


DOHA — Palestinian voices took centre stage on the second day of the 11th edition of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), held in Doha on Wednesday, featuring a plenary on “Education in Times of War” with a focus on Gaza. 

The session was moderated by Randa Dawoudi, a recipient of the “Qatar Scholarship” from Gaza. It observed the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, bringing awareness to the humanitarian crises unfolding in Gaza and its impact on the educational prospects of children there through personal testimonies from its people. 


Education, a ‘lifeline’ for Gazans 


Ameera Harouda, a mother and a journalist from Gaza, was evacuated from the strip with her family during the ongoing war. 

Harouda shared the struggles she went through, trying to balance her undertaking to document the crimes committed against civilians in Gaza, with her role as a mother working to keep her children safe, while living under Israeli bombardment for 37 consecutive days. 

Harouda also spoke about Israeli’s targeting of schools in Gaza during the ongoing war, depriving children there of their access to education.

 “Education in Gaza is life itself; all children in Gaza consider their schools as their second homes,” she said. 

Harouda added that the war on Gaza turned its schools into shelters for over 1.5 million displaced Palestinians, looking for a safe haven within the walls of these educational institutions, which were not spared from Israeli airstrikes.

She concluded with a call for urgent action to help restore access to education for children in Gaza, through establishing field schools that incorporate play and psychological support in their curriculums. 

“Gaza deserves to not only survive, but to live,” said Ahmed Zayed, who lived through two wars in Gaza. He reiterated Harouda’s call, noting that education is a “lifeline” for people in Gaza. 

President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Jeffrey D. Sachs, also spoke during the plenary.  Sachs is a university professor, who serves as the Director of the Centre for Sustainable Development at Columbia University.

He noted that, although schooling in times of war is a “heroic” activity, even more important is putting an end to all these wars that are “raging” around the world.  

Sachs recalled speaking at the UN Security Council meeting last week, during which he highlighted the importance of addressing the “core political issues” underlying ongoing wars in order to put an end to them. 

Sachs views that the solution to the “Israel-Palestine conflict” is enforcing the resolution, adopted by the UN Security Council “decades ago” to establish two UN member states on the 1967 borders. 


Cultivating resilience through education 


Athar Ahmad, a recipient of the “Qatar Scholarship” from Gaza, shared her experience as a survivor of four wars, in utilising the “transformative” power of education to mitigate the effects of trauma.

“As we witness the ongoing tragedy in Gaza, we must recognise the importance of protecting education at all costs.

“It’s not just a university, a classroom or a diploma; it is a beacon of hope. It’s a path to a better future. I urge each one of you to advocate for the right to education to ensure that the next generation in Gaza will not bear the brunt of this unending conflict,” she said. 

James S. Gordon, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist, and the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Centre for Mind-Body Medicine, spoke about his experience in trauma recovery, delving into psychosocial emotional learning. 

Gordon noted that a “population-wide” psychological trauma is currently unfolding in Gaza. 

WISE is a global platform for innovation in education, founded in 2009 by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development under the leadership of its chairperson, Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser. 

This year’s edition of the two-day summit kicked off on Tuesday at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, under the theme: “Creative Fluency: Human Flourishing in the Age of AI”.

45 users have voted.


Get top stories and blog posts emailed to you each day.