She made the remarks while giving the penultimate speech on the final day of the World Government Summit in Dubai, which was attended by Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum; Sheikh Mansour bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Mohammad bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and Future, and Chairman of the Summit.
Azoulay said 263 million children currently did not have a school place.
“These are the would-be teachers, scientists, artists, entrepreneurs, and citizens of tomorrow, unable to shape the future potential of the rest of their lives,” Azoulay added.
In September 2015 the UN created a plan for the future sustainability of the world’s population and the planet, called Agenda 2030.
Azoulay warned that without “quality education for all,” the goals of Agenda 2030 could not be achieved.
But she also cautioned against complacency about places where children are in schools, adding that they “are not necessarily gaining basic skills, leaving equipped with knowledge and competencies for the 21st century. We need to step up investment in quality education to reach the most marginalized and disadvantaged learners.”
Azoulay said the world needed a “skills revolution.”
“The shift to the green economy and the opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution call for a sharper focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” she said.
“Especially for girls, who are too often dissuaded from pursuing a career in these fields,” she also pointed out.
While placing an emphasis on sciences, she said there was also a need to include humanities in education.
“In recent years we have seen – including in this region – increased attempts at cultural cleansing by those who wish to erase traces of our shared history, and wish to deny diversity,” she said.
“But culture is more than buildings, documents and traditions. It is how we see ourselves, how we see the world, how we learn about ourselves and about others,” she added.
Education for all, she said, was the “only long-term solution to fight extremism.
“When extremists divide humanity between us and them, we need to highlight everything that unites us as a single community,” she further concluded.