IsDB President Addresses the International Conference on Education, Culture, and International Organizations

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 8th March 2023 – Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) President Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser was the keynote speaker at the International Conference on the Future of Education, Culture, and International Organizations (FESCIOF) co-organized by the Arab League Educational, Cultural, and Scientific Organization (ALECSO) and the Saudi National Commission for Education, Culture, and Science in Riyadh. The conference featured honorable ministers, members of the ALECSO Executive Council, and distinguished delegates. 

In his speech, Dr. Al Jasser congratulated the ALECSO Executive Council on the unanimous re-election of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia as its chair, noting the positive strides achieved under the Kingdom's stewardship. He emphasized that the IsDB continuously develops innovative approaches, financing instruments, and solutions to address the rapidly evolving global economy. 

Since its establishment 48 years ago, the IsDB has encouraged investment in education and the development of human resources through many programs and projects. "We have financed more than 2,000 educational projects in 136 member and non-member states at a total cost of US$ 5 billion," Dr. Al-Jasser said. 

He revealed that the IsDB member states are home to almost a third of the world's out-of-school children, with the largest numbers in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Furthermore, he indicated that learning proficiency levels remain among the lowest in these states.  

To increase access to education and improve learning outcomes, the IsDB has promoted three flagship programs, namely (1) the bilingual education program in Sub-Saharan Africa, (2) the out-of-school children program, and (3) the vocational literacy for poverty reduction program (VOLIP). With $ 300 million in financing from the bank, the bilingual education program sought to integrate the parallel traditional education system with modern education and reduce inequalities to enhance the inclusion of conventional education graduates. To date, this program has built over 1500 schools, supported the recruitment and training of teachers, and provided much-needed teaching and learning materials. 

IsDB President highlighted that the bank had developed innovative programs in global partnerships. For example, in 2018, the IsDB launched a US$ 16-million program to support the education and training of Syrian refugees in host communities in collaboration with Spark (Netherlands), Education Above All Foundation (Qatar), and other partners. This program has achieved tangible results in the targeted member countries, benefitting 12,000 Syrian students in various sectors.  

Qualitative education, training, and capacity building are critical components of the IsDB programs. HE Dr. Al Jasser pointed out that this type of education is an effective tool to escape poverty and unemployment and achieve economic growth and human dignity. The bank also implements several primary and university education projects through the IsDB-managed King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Program for Charity Works. 

"Our education sector policy theme is 'learning for human development.' It aims at shifting the narrative from schooling to learning," Dr. Al Jasser said. He stressed the IsDB Group's keenness to support the new developments in the educational sector in a way that enhances the possibilities of achieving sustainable and comprehensive human development and improves the well-being of citizens of the IsDB's member states," he added.