Dubai: Philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares has reached seven million children through its primary education programmes in 28 developing countries since its inception in 2007.
To celebrate this milestone, and its fifth year anniversary, the organisation held an awards ceremony this week to recognise more than 40 donors and supporters who have played a key role in this achievement.
It is not enough to enrol a child in school, we need to ensure that he or she is learning. We will also focus on early childhood development
The ceremony was attended by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Shaikh Maktoum Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Deputy Ruler. Dubai Cares was launched by the Ruler of Dubai with a focus on primary education, covering school infrastructure, health and nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and quality of education.
So far it has built and renovated more than 1,500 schools and classrooms, provided more than 1,000 water wells, constructed 3,000 sanitation facilities, provided nutritious food to more than 490,000 students, trained 23,000 teachers and distributed more than two million books.
In a public address, Reem Ebrahim Al Hashemi, Minister of State and Chairperson of Dubai Cares, said, “In spite of all our achievements, there are still many challenges that prevent millions of children from going to school, with the majority of these being girls.
“However, we are always looking ahead with optimism and are renewing our commitment to being an ambassador of the cultural ideals of Dubai and the UAE, and realising the vision of His Highness.”
Speaking to Gulf News about the challenges, Asma A. Malek, country programme officer, Dubai Cares, said they have evolved from supporting existing programmes to designing and implementing their own.
She explained that though infrastructure projects for schools, classrooms and sanitation facilities were in place, Dubai Cares realised there were missing components like training and support from a country’s government, villages and students themselves.
“We began to incorporate several elements together within each programme to increase the impact,” she said.
Looking to the future, Malek said Dubai Cares is going to focus on quality and learning over the next five years.
“It is not enough to enrol a child in school, we need to ensure that he or she is learning. We will also focus on early childhood development and how it can be incorporated in the primary and secondary education.”
Gulf News spoke to a few of the evening’s award winners.
Chris Tight, former employee of Dubai Cares who is currently a fund-raising consultant in Hong Kong, said, “Being part of Dubai Cares is the greatest gift of my life.
“I continue to work towards child-related causes like diabetes, chronic illness, primary education, and obesity.”
Emirati Abeer Al Khaja said the objective of Dubai Cares resonates with her. “As a female, I am blessed to be educated; not everyone has that privilege. Further, Dubai Cares encourages youth volunteering.”
Saleh Al Braik, financial strategist at Dubai Aluminium Company Ltd (DUBAL), said, “I volunteered during my university days in the UK, and wanted to continue after returning to Dubai.
“I signed up with Dubai Cares where I grew from a volunteer to a project leader, overseeing other volunteers.”
The Dubai Cares Programmes Report (2007-2011) of its implementing partners and activities including numbers of direct beneficiaries, schools impacted, teachers trained and parent-teacher associations (PTAs), was also released.
Key achievements by Dubai Cares since 2007
Built and renovated more than 1,500 schools and classrooms
Provided more than 1,000 water wells and other drinking sources
Constructed 3,000 sanitation facilities within schools
Provided nutritious meals to more than 490,000 students
Trained 23,000 teachers
Established more than 6,600 parent-teacher councils
Distributed more than two million books