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Education is the greatest gift, says former Ambassador

13 June 2013

Sir Sherard with Pestalozzi council member and event organiser Penny HamiltonFormer Ambassador to the Middle East Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles recently spoke to a full house in Rye about the varied politics, religions and social structures of Arab countries. The talk was attended by former diplomats and military personnel, academics, local residents and international students. The event was organised in aid of educational charity Pestalozzi International Village Trust and held at Rye Methodist Church, raising almost £2000 to support Pestalozzi student scholarships.

Sir Sherard has served as the Foreign Secretary’s Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, and as British Ambassador to Israel, Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan. In his speech, entitled "What the Arabs Really Want”, Sir Sherard drew on his broad experience to argue that the ‘three Es’ of education, engagement and emancipation are the keys to a better future for the Arab world. "The first and greatest gift we can give the Arab world is support in the search for education,” he noted. "We need to train them to not only know the facts, but also to help in the task of asking the right questions.”

Sir Sherard talks to Pestalozzi student Bharat NepaliSir Sherard championed Pestalozzi as an example of how education can be used to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people and their families. Over the past 50 years, Pestalozzi has given scholarships to more than 600 students from Africa, Asia, Central America and Europe, all of whom have been encouraged to use Pestalozzi’s ‘three Hs’ of head, heart and hands to realise their potential and make a real and lasting difference in the world. Sir Sherard echoed Pestalozzi’s educational ethos saying, "Working with one’s brain is only perhaps half as good as being able to work with one’s brains and hands as well.”

Pestalozzi Chief Executive Sue Walton thanks Sir SherardPestalozzi Chief Executive Sue Walton thanked Sir Sherard, comparing the ‘three Es’ of education, engagement and emancipation with Pestalozzi’s ‘three Hs’ of head, heart and hands. "At a time when there is so much suspicion in the West of the Arab world and Islam, it is a real pleasure to hear such sense talked about inclusivity in the Middle East,” Ms Walton said. "Inclusivity and diversity are key elements of Pestalozzi’s multi-cultural, multi-faith community. We look forward to welcoming students from eight countries in the coming academic year.”

After taking questions from the audience, Sir Sherard signed copies of his two books, Cables from Kabul and Ever the Diplomat, donating half of the proceeds to Pestalozzi. "I am thrilled that individuals like Sir Sherard Cowper-Coles are kind enough to make donations, hold events and spread the word about Pestalozzi,” said Ms Walton. "Every penny we receive goes a long way in supporting our exceptional students.”

Pestalozzi students wait for the talk to begin in Rye

Interested in the Middle East? Read about the fantastic work our Alumnus Nassir has been doing in Palestine and beyond.