In the eight years since it was founded, Dubai Cares has built and renovated more than 2,100 classrooms and schools, created more than 1,400 wells and potable water sources and constructed more than 3,400 school toilets.
The work by the charitable organisation, established in 2007 after a decree by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has benefited about 13 million children in 39 developing countries.
An eight-week campaign back then managed to raised more than Dh1.7 billion as start-up capital, which was matched by an equal donation from Sheikh Mohammed.
This money helped get the organisation up and running, but Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive of Dubai Cares, believes it has been innovation, hard work and research that allowed its continued successes. When deciding which children need aid, Mr Al Gurg said his researchers were “in continuous dialogue with our partners around the world and we look at Unesco’s global monitoring report”.
“We also check the human development index and see which country has an education problem. We do our own research and see trends and attend global meetings and education summits.”
He said the main aim of the organisation was to provide “better quality education for children”. So once a country has been identified where the school systems are in need of help, the team gets to work.
“We work with our partners to design a programme for that country. The partners also go to the ministry of education and the government in the country and check the nature of the education problem,” Designing a programme can take from six months to a year.
Recently, the charity faced an unusual problem in Laos, where a new programme will soon be launched.
The South-East Asian country has high drop-out rates in its schools, with many pupils leaving within the first year of education.
This compared poorly with other developing countries, where most children stayed until they had at least finished primary school.
The Laos government could not ascertain why the children were dropping out directly after grade one.
Dubai Cares stepped in to investigate the causes and collect evidence. At present, researchers are conducting randomised control trials, questioning teachers and parents as to why the children are dropping out.
Mr Al Gurg counts the programme in Mali, which focused on teaching hygiene and sanitation, as one of the organisation’s flagship programmes.
Also in Mali, Dubai Cares built water wells and toilets for the schools. “In Mali, they have never seen soap in their lives and they don’t know what it is,” Mr Al Gurg said. “We teach them about the importance of washing one’s hands. When the parents see that their children are not falling ill because they are washing their hands, they also start using soap and in this way the impact spreads to the village and then the community.”
Another project, which was run in Ghana and Bangladesh, was helping schools to feed the children.
The schools were helped to source crops directly from farmers and local markets then prepare the food themselves, giving the children more nutritious meals. –End-
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