A class in session at The Big Heart Foundation Educational Centre in Sharjah Image Credit: Supplied

Sharjah: Hundreds of children who came to the UAE after fleeing conflict in their home countries are receiving courses at a centre in Sharjah to help them enrol in school in the UAE.

The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a Sharjah-based global humanitarian organisation for supporting refugees and people in need worldwide, is providing the courses for 492 underprivileged students from a cross-section of nationalities in the UAE under the umbrella of its first UAE-based project, The Big Heart Educational Centre.

The centre targets beneficiaries in two categories in the 10 to 26 age group. The first one comprises children and adults who had to leave school at an early age and flee their conflict-ridden countries with their families in search of peace. They benefit from remedial courses and learning assistance at the centre, whose curriculum is designed to secure admission in appropriate grades in UAE schools.

Vocational training

The second category targets 18-plus individuals who either completed high school but did not have the financial resources go to college, or who do not have a school education and require training to enter the job market. They come to the centre to undergo vocational training and be equipped with the skillsets required for the job market.

The Dh2.1 million project, launched in 2019 in partnership with UAE-based Rawafed Development and Learning Centre, is situated on a 6,000-square-metre plot of land in Al Yarmouk area, donated by Al Tunaiji Real Estate.

Programmes offered

The curriculum at the centre consists of two programmes. The first one, Tamkeen, focuses on providing children and young adults with the necessary learning assistance. Around 125 students enrolled in the Tamkeen programme in the 2019/20 academic year, which grew to196 students in 2020/21.

The second programme, Ta’heel, is designed to equip youth with management, planning, marketing, and digital skillsets required for the 21st-century job market. The programme had 86 beneficiaries in 2019/20 academic year,and supported 85 Tamkeen and high school graduates in 2020/21.

Integrating into the community

Mariam Al Hammadi

TBHF Director Mariam Al Hammadi said: “The [centre] represents a significant step in TBHF’s efforts to provide UAE residents who experienced hardships in their home countries the necessary support to fully integrate in their communities by being contributing members. Here, they develop the necessary skillsets to change their circumstances for the better, and subsequently, positively impact their families too”.

She added: “The project aligns with the vision and directives of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Chairperson of TBHF and Eminent Advocate for Refugee Children at UNHCR, to provide opportunities for development to as many underprivileged children and youth as possible while also boosting solidarity in the Emirati community.”

Sheikha Jawaher is the wife of His Highness Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.