If you are able to read this, it means that you have had the chance to go to school where you learnt to read and write. It also means in all likelihood that you have had the chance to learn social interaction through creative play; another skill we develop during our primary years that helps determine the adults we become.
However, for 124 million children and young adolescents in developing countries around the world who do not go to school, primary and lower secondary education is a distant dream. The problem widens when we consider that 250 million children worldwide cannot read, write or count adequately, including those with four years of education.
In September 2007, our founder His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai, wanted to give hope to impoverished children in developing communities by providing them with access to quality education regardless of their gender, nationality, race or religion. That is when he established Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives. Since then, Dubai Cares has become a strong philanthropic voice of the United Arab Emirates globally.
We at Dubai Cares strongly believe that education is not only an essential right of every child, but also an irrevocable asset. Education is a critical factor in every child's physical, social and intellectual development.
It is our vision to see that every child, in every corner of the globe, has access to quality education. Our mission is realized through integrated programs that eliminate the underlying obstacles that prevent children from receiving quality education. This is achieved through building and renovating schools and classrooms, improving water, sanitation and hygiene in schools, providing school feeding, school-based deworming activities, early childhood education, as well as teacher training, curriculum development, literacy and numeracy, education in emergencies, promoting children's transition from primary to lower secondary education as well as investing in evidence-based programming and action research.
Gender equality is a cross cutting theme in all Dubai Cares' education programs with an approach that aims to secure equal access for boys and girls to safe learning environments with adequate facilities, materials and academic support from gender sensitized teachers and communities. The organization strives to provide equal opportunities for girls and boys by improving the quality, relevance and gender sensitivity of teaching and learning.
As we continue with our mission, we will remember 2015 as the year the world witnessed one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern memory. Rough estimates predict that there are 19.5 million refugees globally displaced through natural and man-made disasters, out of whom at least 50% are children. Moreover, there are a staggering 37 million children and adolescents worldwide that have been forced out of education by war.
Depriving children of their right to schooling will not only affect their future prospects, but also result in an entire generation of unskilled and uneducated adults, unprepared for rebuilding conflict-ravaged communities and continuing the fight against poverty.
In our efforts to counter this crisis, we joined United Nations representatives and other relevant agencies in New York during September 2015 to discuss the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years. We also co-hosted an event titled "Education: A Lifeline, Not a Luxury" on the sidelines of the week of the 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York where we discussed the importance of education in crisis areas. During the event, I announced that Dubai Cares will be championing education in emergencies in order to address the critical need to provide quality education to children affected by crisis. Alongside our international partners and through the power of education, we hope to reduce the negative impact these emergencies are having on displaced children, enabling them to reimagine a safer and more prosperous future.
In these testing times, it is thanks to the generosity and solidarity of the people of the UAE, as well as our partners and supporters locally and globally, that we have been able to reach 14 million beneficiaries in 41 developing countries around the world. The challenge remains as great as it has ever been, as the necessity for us to come together as a single global voice to save our children from a lifetime of disadvantage and poverty grows stronger and more critical.
Dubai Cares will continue to work without hesitation to reach the world's most vulnerable children in rural and deprived areas. Through our initiatives and with the help of our dedicated partners, we will realize the hopes of entire communities by educating and inspiring children to build prosperous and fulfilling futures.