The Malala Fund and hearing health not-for-profit The Cochlear Foundation have partnered to raise awareness of the barriers keeping millions of children and young people with hearing loss from accessing a quality education.
According to the World Health Organization, 34 million children around the world live with disabling hearing loss. Without equal access to a quality education and early access to hearing healthcare and support these children may not realise their full potential.
In response, the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate and co-founder of The Malala Fund, Malala Yousafzai, called for societies and governments to prioritise hearing health in a personal foreword for the World Health Organization’s first-ever World Report on Hearing, in March 2021.
Following this important step, The Malala Fund and Cochlear Foundation, have sought to ensure hearing loss is not yet another reason girls, marginalised people and those who need hearing healthcare and support are left behind.
“My hope is that all girls can have equal opportunities and that we ensure a world where every girl can have access to free, safe and quality education,” said Malala Yousafzai. “Hearing loss doesn’t need to be an obstacle to education.”
If children with hearing loss do not receive hearing healthcare and support early, they often experience lower school performance, higher risk of dropping out of school, and less likelihood of accessing higher education. Ultimately, this can impact their lifelong career prospects.
This problem is exacerbated in many parts of the world where millions of children — especially girls — already face significant barriers to education.
Cochlear Foundation Chair, Professor Anne Simmons said hearing loss was a global issue that requires greater awareness and a global solution.
“Malala Fund and Cochlear Foundation’s missions are connected by a desire for children around the world – including those with hearing loss – to access education and embrace all of life’s opportunities.
“Cochlear Foundation is committed to supporting organisations and programs that enrich the lives of people with hearing loss and their communities, increase research into hearing loss and support hearing health professionals.”
Malala Fund and Cochlear Foundation are inviting children and young people with hearing loss to share their stories of personal achievement as part of the ‘Achieve anything program.’ This new program will highlight and publicly recognise real-world experiences of hearing loss, to promote equal rights to an education and early access to hearing healthcare and support.
“Education for girls can transform lives, communities, countries and our world — but right now more than 130 million girls are out of school. We welcome this partnership with the Cochlear Foundation and together we hope to raise awareness about the challenges girls, including those with hearing loss, face and drive more people to join our movement for education and equality,” said Suzanne Ehlers, CEO of Malala Fund.
Cochlear CEO and President Dig Howitt said this partnership supported Cochlear’s mission to help more people to hear and experience life’s opportunities.
“Two years ago, I hosted a group of children with hearing loss at a special event where Malala spoke. She is a role model whose incredible story of courage and determination inspired this group as it inspires people around the world. Malala speaking about her own experience will change lives by raising the confidence and self-esteem of a generation of girls and young people with hearing loss.
“Cochlear supports Malala Fund’s goals of equality for girls and believes all children should have equal access to education. I also hope this important partnership will help raise awareness of the need for governments and societies to prioritise hearing health so more children and adults with hearing loss can connect with life’s opportunities.”
Visit cochlearfoundation.org to learn more about the partnership and how to submit stories to the ‘Achieve anything program’.