Dubai Cares extended primary education to more than 1.2 million children in 2013, the most impactful year in its six-year history, its CEO said. In an interview with Gulf News, Tariq Al Gurg said the philanthropic organisation concluded 13 programmes and launched 14 new ones in developing countries.
Dubai Cares works with partners to implement a variety of programmes such as School Infrastructure, Early Childhood Development, Literacy and Numeracy, School Deworming, and Girls’ Education. “2013 was the most successful year of Dubai Cares, in terms of programmes and bringing in international partners. Fundraising has also been the highest in 2013,” Al Gurg said.
UAE donors raised at least Dh9.6 million from three major fundraisers alone in 2013, with another Dh10 million pledged over five years, he added. Dubai Cares currently has 34 active programmes in 14 countries. It was also a milestone year in terms of new partnerships and education advocacy, Al Gurg said.
The organisation signed an agreement with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), comprised of some 60 developing countries, donor governments, the private sector, teachers, and civil society. GPE aims to eventually help all the children in the world’s poorest countries attend school.
“Our partnership with GPE stems from having like-minded strategies. GPE works in education only, exactly like us. GPE has similar interests, such as introducing innovation into their future programmes — that’s the core thing in Dubai Cares.”
Both GPE and Dubai Cares are also members of the Learning Metrics Task Force (LMTF) and the Technical Advisory Group (TAG) of UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s five-year Global Education First Initiative. TAG’s chairman is Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education and a former prime minister of the UK.
“We sit on those two boards together, so that’s why we’re very close. GPE is working very closely with Gordon Brown’s team and we’re with them also,” Al Gurg said. “Our partnership is about two main things. Number one: to see what countries we are both interested in, to go in together, to co-fund into that country. And two: to also test new models and to work on monitoring and evaluation of programmes.
“In some countries we can co-fund, in others we can scale up programmes, implement an innovative programme, but also replicate the same success model in neighbouring countries.” Dubai Cares also hosted the second LMTF official meeting in Dubai in February 2013. Participants included the representatives from the Task Force Secretariat from the Centre for Universal Education at the Brookings Institution, Unesco Institute for Statistics, UN Secretary General Office, and academics from various countries.
Discussions focused on “a strategy to ensure that all stakeholders understand the value added by the framework and that adequate mechanisms are put in place to overcome implementation barriers.”
Some of those barriers, Al Gurg said, are difficulties in reaching the communities because of poor infrastructure, political instability, and an unwillingness of some parents to send their children, especially girls, to school. This year, following Dubai Cares’ launch of a new project in Ethiopia in 2013, the organisation plans to “champion school heath and nutrition worldwide.”
In 2013, some 30,700 children in 30 schools in Ethiopia, started being covered by the Dubai Cares Home Grown School Feeding (HGSF) pilot programme at a cost of Dh14.7 million ($4,000,000). Dubai Cares said the three-year programme will encourage school admission and attendance, improve children’s learning abilities, and by providing locally-sourced meals, support local economic growth.
Deworming, water sourcing, sanitation and hygiene were also covered under the programme. Al Gurg said: “We’re going to get big players, form a group, get NGOs, UN agencies, and all of us are going to champion this in the world. “Now it’s starting as an idea so we’re putting everything together, and after that we’ll select members to come in and join our force, like what has happened with the LMTF.
“We are a leading role in it; the idea came from us...We’re trying to tell the world [for example] stop doing deworming alone, WASH [Water, Sanitation and Hygiene] alone, school feeding alone. It has to be clubbed together. He added: “That’s where the world is headed and we’re ahead of the game.” Meanwhile, residents have been invited to take part in the Dubai Cares Walk for Education event in Dubai in support of children’s education.
The annual event will be held on February 7 at Jumeirah Beach Park on Jumeirah Beach Road. It will see residents walk three kilometres — the average distance many children in developing countries have to walk to school. A Dh30 entry fee per participant will go towards Dubai Cares.