AGF educational foundation says ‘door is open’ to collaboration with Japan schools

“We’d love to be able to learn and see what we can do better with [Japan],” Ben Jaafar told Arab News Japan. (AFP)

DUBAI: CEO of UAE’s Abdullah Al Ghurair Foundation (AGF) for Education Dr. Sonia Ben Jaafar said Japan’s successful education system can “open doors” for collaboration with students in the Middle East region.

“We’d love to be able to learn and see what we can do better with [Japan],” Ben Jaafar told Arab News Japan. “The door is open, not just to Japan, but globally to learn from everyone.”

AGF was founded in 2015 with the aim of training and empowering Arab youth to contribute to the sustainable development of the region through education solutions. AGF supports the provision of high-quality technology-based education opportunities and the development of skills for a successful transition into higher education and the labor market.

Ben Jaafar explained that AGF wants to incorporate green education for a sustainable future.

“We subscribe to making a better future for others and treating them as we wish to be treated ourselves. That’s kind of like our fundamental values tenant. And then the second one is, we believe in education and training for employment and economic independence and empowerment,” she added.



Ben Jaafar said sustainable topics and skills need to be integrated into education, so as not to focus on only the practical implementation of those expertise, but also the negotiation side of things.

“For example, at COP28, we have the scientists, and we have the technical people, but we also have communication specialists. We have negotiators, we have political activists, we have politicians, historians,” she explained.

According to AGF’s CEO, international organizations and other nations are interested in the Arab region, including the Japan Development Agency.

“These organizations are deeply interested but they’re not interested in the old ways of development. They’re interested in impact,” she said.

Giving an example on AGF’s impact, Ben Jaafar told the story for Syrian refugee in Jordan who learned that through AGF’s teaching of agritech, he was able to apply vertical farming that would help his community.

Through the skills he acquired, the refugee was able to implement those skills, and start selling organic products as well. He then he took 20 young men and women and trained them, resulting in his own successful business.

AGF also works with the UAE’s Ministry of Education to create more green communities for a sustainable future.

“One of our programs is called the ‘Eco-Preneurship Bootcamp,’ in which young people pitch their programs that will provide solutions for environmental issues,” Ben Jaafar told Arab News Japan. “The top three women will be able to bring their business ideas to fruition.”

As universities and schools in the Gaza Strip have been stricken by Israeli bombings, young students’ educational future looks bleak.

Ben Jaafar said that AGF will be reaching out to their partners in the region and exploring how the foundation can help with its Refugee Education Fund.

“We saw this in the past where you have the destruction of educational opportunities, children feel like it’s their fault, for some reason. Children blame themselves and it’s not it’s not their fault,” she added.

AGF have worked in conflict zones and have made sure that education in these areas of conflict can be provided safely.