NAT Tariq Al Gurg2-1617708874193
Dubai Cares CEO Dr Tariq Al Gurg, who is also GPE Regional Champion, in a video message at virtual Middle East launch event of GPE’s ‘Case for Investment’ for its 'Raise Your Hand' campaign on Tuesday. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: UAE-based global philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares on Tuesday joined a $5 billion (Dh18.3 billion) education support programme for children in 90 lower-income countries and territories.

The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) and Dubai Cares, part of Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, on Tuesday committed $202.5 million for the ‘Raise Your Hand’ financing campaign of Global Partnership for Education (GPE).

First pledges

Dubai Cares contributed $2.5 million (around Dh9.18 million) and IsDB pledged $200 million (around Dh734.6 million). The pledges are the first from the Middle East. With its latest pledge, Dubai Cares has doubled its previous contributions to GPE in 2014 and 2018. Dubai Cares was the first non-government and philanthropic organisation to contribute funding to GPE.

Virtual launch

The announcement came on Tuesday at the virtual Middle East launch of GPE’s ‘Case for Investment’, which calls on global leaders to pledge at least $5 billion (around Dh18.37 billion) towards education in 90 lower-income countries and territories.

‘Tipping point’

On Tuesday, in a video message at the virtual launch, Dubai Cares CEO Dr Tariq Al Gurg, who is also GPE Regional Champion, said: “If education isn’t given the attention it deserves now, an entire generation on this planet could miss out on their education; hence lose hope for a brighter future. We are now at this tipping point.”

Spiralling crisis

He added that the COVID-19 pandemic – which saw 1 billion children out of school in 2020 – has “reinforced the impact of an already-existing education crisis” that had “previously paralysed education systems around the world”. Gender inequality and school drop-out rates are “on the rise again”, besides “mental health effects” of prolonged school closures, Dr Al Gurg said.

Fully funded, GPE’s support would:
* Enable 175 million primary-age children to learn
* Reach 140 million students with professionally trained teachers
* Get 88 million more children in school, more than half of them girls
* Save $16 billion through more efficient spending

100-year gap?

Also speaking in a video message, Julia Gillard, former Prime Minister of Australia, who is chair of GPE’s board of directors, said: “Pre-COVID, we estimated that if we did nothing to help accelerate progress, it would take an estimated 100 years for the world’s poorest countries to reach the current education levels of the world’s richest. We should let that sink in for a moment and decide that we need a greater, more transformative push at scale… We cannot afford to wait 100 years to invest in the generation that will largely determine how we tackle the shared challenges. This is why we are calling on world leaders to ‘Raise Your Hand’ and pledge at least $5 billion to GPE.”

Concessional loans

Meanwhile the pledge of IsDB (based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia) comes in the form of concessional loans towards lower-income countries’ access to finance for education. IsDB President Dr Bandar Al Hajjar said: “The partnership between IsDB and GPE provides innovative financing opportunities for the Arab funds in the region to respond to the threat that COVID-19 poses to domestic financing for education.”

London finale

The launch event featured remarks by high-level dignitaries from GCC countries and senior officials representing Arab development funds, among others. The event was part of a three-day visit to Saudi Arabia by GPE Vice-Chair Serigne Mbaye Thiam.

The Raise Your Hand campaign will culminate on July 28-29 in London at a summit to finance GPE, co-hosted by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and President of Kenya Uhuru Kenyatta.