Dubai: A new volunteering and community service policy was announced by the Community Development Authority in Dubai (CDA) on Tuesday. The policy aims to create an integrated regulatory framework and encourage the culture of volunteerism among high school and university students, public and private sectors and the civil society.
The policy will be gradually implemented in the next few months with the CDA currently updating the Volunteer Portal, an app that brings together potential volunteers and volunteering opportunities in the emirate.
Companies in public and private sectors and residents will be able to register as volunteers on the app or CDA volunteering website. They can also register volunteering opportunities, once they are approved by the authority.
The new policy’s framework will also work on bridging the gaps in the field of volunteering by creating a unified database of volunteers, number of hours volunteered, and the opportunities available.
The CDA figures showed that 3.6 per cent of Dubai’s population engaged in volunteering activities in 2015. The new policy aims to increase the rate of volunteerism to 10 per cent by the end of 2018 and 20 per cent by 2020, the year Expo is set to take place in Dubai, where an estimated 30,000 volunteers will be needed.
“Having an adopted methodology to improve volunteering and regulating it helps boost the productivity of several national sectors, increases the chances of positively utilising the community members’ efforts and mitigates the financial burden on the government,” said Ahmad Abdul Kareem Julfar, director-general of CDA.
He explained that the policy has come into force as communication with the authorities concerned to discuss the suggested application path has started, while training of the entities concerned will commence soon.
“After adopting the Volunteering Policy Proposal that the CDA prepared, the Social Development Committee of the Executive Council of Dubai has assigned the CDA to draft a law to regulate volunteering in collaboration with relevant authorities. We will follow up on the policy implementation as per timelines and will submit regular reports to the committee,” he said.
The new policy also focuses on community service associated with education to promote the culture of youth volunteerism.
Since 2015, a programme for public schools with over 29,500 students in Dubai makes it mandatory for secondary school students to complete 75 hours of community service, explained Hana Bakar, director of Social Cohesion Department at the CDA.
However, community service programmes offered to private schools by the Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) have been optional.
Moving forward, the new policy has recommended to the KHDA to establish a programme to regulate and encourage volunteering and community services among the 260,000 students in private schools. “Community service won’t be a compulsory mandate for students to graduate, but it will become an essential part of all schools and curriculums and will be heavily encouraged through different programmes,” said Baker.
Internationally, community service aims to develop students’ personalities and enhance their national identities. Many developed countries are adopting the ‘Education for Global Citizenship,’ system, which is based on increasing volunteering by students during the school stages.
Box: The new volunteering policy announced by the Community Development Authority (CDA) does not include:
Forced or compulsory labour
Working for a financial fee
Free work for training or employment
Corporate Social Responsibility
Number of volunteers above the age of 18 in Dubai over five years:
Emiratis: 12.2% volunteered
Total population of Dubai: 3.2% volunteered
Emiratis: 7.6% volunteered
Total population of Dubai: 2.9% volunteered
Emiratis: 9.2% volunteered
Total population of Dubai: 3.6% volunteered