How Hikma provides opportunities to under-served communities
20 October 2022
Acting responsibly by providing education opportunities
It seems obvious and almost too simple to say – that we all grow up differently; different homes; different countries; different economic climates and different circumstances.
Ideally, access to equal education would be the common thread that unites us all. Unfortunately, however, this is not the case. The quality of education globally and people’s access to it, is not as equitable as it should be. According to UNESCO, if all adults completed secondary education, the world’s global poverty rate could be cut in half.
While businesses cannot solve the issues of poverty and global inequality in education, we can play a role and make a meaningful difference. Through specific initiatives and programmes, businesses can serve to bridge the gap and provide educational opportunities that improve both the lives of individuals, and the communities in which we operate.
Education is something Hikma’s late founder Samih Darwazah was passionate about and we are dedicated to continuing his legacy both for the communities in which we operate, and for our own people. In 2017, we prioritised five United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, including Goal 4 which aims to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’. By doing so, we are committed to providing access to education to change the lives of individuals, to change communities and to help shape a better world.
Education in the community
At Hikma, we engage with local communities, including schools and other educational institutions, to promote education across society.
Through our partnership with CareerVillage, our colleagues have been able to mentor and support students around the world, giving valuable career advice to the next generation, while allowing our employees to explore new ways of working and thinking. To date, advice shared by Hikma employees has reached more than 105,000 online learners.
Across our locations, we work alongside nearby schools to directly impact local communities. In Portugal, for example, we organise annual campaigns to refurbish and rebuild infrastructure and distribute essential supplies for students that attend schools in the same locality as our facility.
In the US, our Black Employees Advisory Board has piloted a programme in underserved communities to help young students build skills in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math, which are essential for success in today’s innovation-focused job market. Students in this programme engage in critical thinking, problem-solving, teamwork, and adaptability which are important for future careers.
In MENA, our recently established partnership with the UNHCR and its DAFI (Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative) scholarship is currently supporting the higher education of 40 refugees. This programme provides refugee students with four years of funding, covering tuition fees and full living costs. It also offers language classes, psychological support, academic bridging courses and career readiness workshops, alongside providing networking, internship and entrepreneurship opportunities. All of this helps to bridge the knowledge and social gap for refugees, helping them to overcome the challenges they have faced and find meaningful and sustainable employment for the future.
The scholarship programme has helped 19-year old Sara Atari, a Syrian refugee who originally had to stop school to care for her father. Thanks to the programme, she is now a second-year student studying Journalism & Media at Zarqa Private University in Jordan.
“The DAFI scholarship and [it] adopting me within its larger family has made a huge difference in my life. This is the first step to freedom”
Education opportunities at Hikma
We are proud to be able to offer our employees a breadth of educational services that enable them to learn and develop skills throughout their careers. We have seen tangible results from this. When targeted internally, supporting employees in accessing quality education helps to foster better retention, hiring and performance, contributing to more enduring company success.
One of the cornerstones of our approach to responsibility – how we empower our people and shape an inclusive culture where everyone can thrive – is by offering opportunities for further education. In 2010, we created a “Continuing Education” programme that grants partial and full scholarships to top universities, enabling our employees to continue their education while working at Hikma. To date, we have provided 134 scholarships and the feedback has been unanimously positive, with the additional skills learnt having a direct impact on our employees’ daily work at Hikma. We also have a suite of digital tools that allow our colleagues around the world to take courses and improve their knowledge.
Continuing our founder’s legacy
Students like Sara Atari are a perfect example of why we are so passionate about education, which has the ability to change lives, families and communities. From the days when our founder Samih Darwazah took girls’ education into his own hands by setting up a school for girls in Jordan, through to students like Sara Atari today – access to high quality learning is a vital thread in Hikma’s history. One that we are committed to continuing and one that we could not be more proud of.