Cochlear Foundation launches global partnership with Malala Fund to remove hearing loss as a barrier to education

Press Release, Sep 23, 2021, 1:45 PM IST

Malala Fund and hearing health not-for-profit Cochlear Foundation have partnered to raise awareness about the barriers keeping millions of young people with hearing loss from accessing quality education.

According to the World Health Organization, 34 million children around the world live with hearing loss1. Without equal rights to an education and early access to hearing healthcare and support these children may not realize their full potential.

In response, the world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate and co-founder of Malala Fund, Malala Yousafzai, called for societies and governments to prioritize hearing health across the life-course in a personal foreword for the World Health Organization’s first-ever World Report on Hearing, in March 2021.

Following this important step, Malala Fund and Cochlear Foundation, supported by Cochlear, sought to ensure hearing loss is not yet another reason girls, marginalized 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, a higher risk of dropping out of school, and less likelihood of accessing higher education. Ultimately, this can impact their lifelong career prospects.2

This problem is exacerbated in many parts of the world where millions of children — especially girls — already face significant barriers to education.3

Cochlear Foundation, Chairperson Anne Simmons said the 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 organizations 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 recognize their real-world experiences of hearing loss to promote their equal rights to 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 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 prioritize hearing health so more children and adults with hearing loss can connect with life’s opportunities.”

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