Dubai, U.A.E. – 19 April 2020: Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE) has awarded 58 underprivileged students from the Arab world full scholarships at Arizona State University (ASU) to pursue their Master’s degrees as part of the Al Ghurair Open Learning Scholars Program (OLSP).
The 58 students have been selected based on merit and need from a large group of applicants, and represent several nationalities from the Arab world including Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and Yemen. Of these aspiring young Arabs, 14% are refugees or conflict-affected youth with increasingly limited opportunities to continue their higher education. Given that there are lower rates of graduate students in the Arab world than the global average, it is a game-changer for these Arab youth who are being given access to the top 1 percent of the world's most prestigious universities as ranked by Times Higher Education. According to the Education 2030 Incheon Declaration, these scholarship programs can “play a vital role to help increase access to global knowledge.”
Mohamed Guleid, a young Somalian working at Mediclinic in the United Arab Emirates was awarded the scholarship to pursue his Master’s in International Health Management at ASU. In his own words: “This scholarship will kickstart my professional development by increasing my knowledge and understanding of healthcare management, especially as I am already working in the field. On a personal level, this opportunity will also enable my future plans to develop my own country's healthcare system. This is a major turning point in my higher education journey and I truly appreciate the opportunity.”
The country-level closures of educational institutions to help contain COVID-19 have created additional challenges for millions of youth in the Arab world to access higher education. AGFE is taking all the necessary measures to adapt its process for OLSP in order to ensure access for every young Arab in this disruptive time. The Foundation has seen an increase in the demand for their program that provides scholarships for online Master’s programs. As the region turns to online learning as a response to the ongoing pandemic, the most recent application cycle saw the highest number of applicants since the program launched in 2017.
The OLSP offers full online Master’s scholarships at ASU for a range of fields such as engineering, technology, health, education, sustainability, tourism and other degrees relevant to Arab youth in the region. ASU, which for the past five years in a row has been ranked as the most innovative university in the United States by US News and World Report, is a leader in online learning. The OLSP covers the total cost of mandatory university tuition and fees until students complete their Master’s degree. In addition, AGFE and ASU also offer scholars several skill-building, professional opportunities to better equip them for the world of work, providing them with a supportive community and an academic success advisor.
Over the past four years, AGFE has been working to support and promote high-quality online education programs in the UAE and across the Arab world. The Foundation has offered over 800 scholarships and is helping regional universities improve their capacity to offer educational courses and programs online. These efforts directly address the disparity in access to university education in the Arab world to help meet the Sustainable Development Goal 4 targets adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit in 2015. The Foundation is dedicated to transforming lives through education as it believes that education is the main driver of development.
Dr. Sonia Ben Jaafar, Chief Executive Officer of AGFE, said: “During this unprecedented time, the Foundation has increased its efforts to assure that higher education does not stop for youth in the Arab world. We will continue to support both those young people who are dreaming of education for better livelihoods, and those educational institutions who want to provide a high-quality education for all. Most of these scholarship recipients reached out to us because they wanted to pursue a graduate degree in Engineering, Health or Education. They want to make a difference in their local communities. These are exactly the kind of impressive young people we need to support to contribute to the sustainable development of the region.”