This Saudi woman is fighting to improve the poor’s access to education

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Saudi citizen Solafa Batterjee says being raised in a household that cared about community service has played a big role in her love and passion for what she is doing now.

Batterjee, who started volunteering at just 13, is still active in community service through her role in several civil society organizations. She is one of the few Saudi women who have been associated with many initiatives in the field of education as well.

In her interview with Al Arabiya, Batterjee said she was interested in education as a tool for change since her childhood and that her parents taught her that education was the main tool for human empowerment.

Batterjee said she began volunteering in education when she was 13 years old and worked as a teacher of during summer programs when she first realized that she liked the experience of teaching others. Batterjee said she worked for years in an "unlimited semester called the world" and that she was more a "teacher of leadership skills and positive change in societies" rather than being an academic one. She started training in different learning directions, where she received a master's degree in curriculum design and evaluation from the Phoenix University in United States.

Solafah added that there are multiple humanitarian needs, but the need for education is the most important and comprehensive, as it eliminates poverty, sickness and ignorance, explaining that’s why her grandfather, Sheikh Abdul Jalil Batterjee and her grandmother Mrs. Thuria Nazer, established an endowment to fund and support gifted students with economic challenges. From which the “Doroob” educational scholarships were launched.

She clarified that the initiative is a specialized scholarship for public education students, in contrast to what is prevailing in the field of scholarships, indicating that the investment in the young age is more profound than the others. Each year, the initiative accepts dozens of students and provides them with all tuition fees as well as academic, medical, proficiency and social care for nine years.

“To empower the students with the 21st century skills, through training programs in various human disciplines, which will prepare the student to be a successful leader, as well as developing the children’s emotional intelligence, which is a part of us as human beings, where it highlights our ability to initiate and influence, especially since scientific studies proved that academic excellence, is not the only measure of a successful person, the superior might be unable to manage his personal life properly,” she told Al Arabiya.

On her concerns in the field of education development, she stresses the importance of "equipping students with the skills of the 21st century from an early age to ensure that our children are prepared for future jobs. There is an urgent need to equip them with the skills of creativity, invention, problem solving, thinking, criticism, communication, self-management, time management,” she said.