A new educational facility recently opened in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, with the help of a grant from the Qatar Friendship Fund (QFF).

On May 28, an opening ceremony was held in Iwaki, attended by Qatari Foreign Minister Khalid Bin Mohammed Al-Attiyah, Qatari Ambassador Yousef Bilal and Iwaki Mayor Toshio Shimizu.

Named “Elem” for “education” in Arabic, the facility is designed to give visiting school groups the opportunity to experience life planning and to gain skills that will be crucial to them in the future. Set in a simulated city, students will spend a day as adults and learn about possible future occupations and skills regarding banking, utilities, budgeting, saving and proper consumer behavior, through the programs provided by nonprofit organization Junior Achievement Japan.

Elem is expected to directly and indirectly benefit around 12,000 elementary and junior high school students from Iwaki and, together with another educational facility set to open this summer in Sendai, Miyagi Prefecture, will benefit more than 31,700 students in the Tohoku region.

The QFF is a $100 million gift to the Japanese people from the State of Qatar to assist relief efforts and accelerate the recovery of those affected by the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. Launched by Father Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani in 2012, and operated under the auspices of Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani, the fund is a symbol of the strong relationship that has existed between Qatar and Japan for over 40 years. The QFF donated ¥370 million to Elem, which is the third project financed by the fund.

During the ceremony on May 28, the foreign minister handed a ceremonial key to a student representative.

“The QFF is our humble contribution to bring hope back to the people of Japan. The future prosperity of those areas most severely impacted by the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 will greatly depend on the next generation and the role they play on revitalizing and diversifying the economy,” the foreign minster said. “That is precisely why one of the fund’s focus areas is education.”

The ambassador added, “I am delighted that the QFF is showing tangible results and is reaching out to help so many people in so many ways.”

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