Building peace in the minds of men and women

The power of education. Stories from four continents - Greece

Shahnaz Karimi, 24, her husband Nasir Rasouli, 34, and their eight-year-old livewire son Matin arrived in Lesbos in August 2018. Originally from Herat in Afghanistan, the Rasouli family fills their days with education giving them a much-needed sense of normality and offers hope of work and a better future.

Migrants seeking a better life or forcibly displaced often suffer trauma while facing numerous obstacles – lack of legal documents, language skills and recognition of their prior qualifications. UNESCO advocates for inclusive education policies at all levels and access to quality learning opportunities as part of the humanitarian response. 

Lesbos has been a gateway to Europe for migrants since 2015. The Greek island hosts the biggest refugee camp in Europe and crowded boats still arriving almost every day.

Shanaz and Nasir came with professions: she was a beautician and he a painter and decorator. They are improving their English as well as attending art classes. They share a love of painting.

Matin goes to primary school while his parents attend English classes and art classes. He is already better than his parents in English.

Matin wants to be a policeman when he grows up.


‘If Matin couldn't study here he would be very behind compared to other children,’ says his mum Shahnaz.

This November, the foreseen adoption of the Global Convention on the Recognition of Higher Education Qualifications will set the ground to increase academic mobility and establish common recognition practices worldwide. Lesbos is part of the UNESCO Global Network of Learning Cities, which fosters a culture of learning throughout life.

Photos: Olivier Jobard

This story is part of the UNESCO’s #EducationTransformsLives exhibition, displayed at the United Nations Headquarters in New York during the months of July and august 2019.

The exhibition is organized in partnership with Education Above All, the Qatar Foundation, the Permanent Mission of the State of Qatar to the United Nations as well as the co-chairs of the Group of Friends and Lifelong Learning (Argentina, Czech Republic, Japan, Kenya and Norway).