A Dubai Cares delegation led by Chief Executive Officer, Tariq Al Gurg joined United Nations representatives and other relevant agencies in New York this week to discuss the post-2015 education development agenda as part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for the next 15 years. Dubai Cares also co-hosted an event titled "Education: A Lifeline, Not a Luxury" in partnership with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) on the sidelines of the week of the 70th United Nations General Assembly in New York.
During the co-hosted event, Tariq Al Gurg was joined by Rt Hon David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee along with Government Ministers, development donors and private sector representatives, sparking discussion to highlight the importance of education in crisis areas, where Tariq Al Gurg 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. Rough estimates predict that there are more than 19.5 million refugees globally, with 50 percent of those being children. Dubai Cares had previously launched a number of educational emergency response programs in crisis-hit countries such as Palestine, Lebanon, Pakistan and Haiti.
Speaking at the event, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares highlighted how education has been neglected in war-torn and crisis-hit countries, stating: "Over 37 million children and adolescents have been forced out of school by conflict and emergency. Our goal today is to make a stronger case for education in emergencies through evidence-based interventions that succeed not only in ensuring access to education, but also in providing children the opportunity to learn and cope while in unstable environments. We need to show greater commitment to the children and their parents who have voiced their need for education despite their uncertain conditions."
Al Gurg also stressed the importance of realizing the realities of the Middle East region when it comes to emergencies, saying: "We are inspired by the firm belief of our founder His Highness Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai that education is one of the most effective tools to break the cycle of poverty. To achieve this, a greater focus needs to be placed on the fragile and conflict-affected situations in the Middle East and around the world."
Despite the growing number of children caught in conflict, statistics show that around 1% of overall humanitarian aid is spent on education. In Syria, it was predicted that by the end of 2013, more than 2,994 schools had been destroyed and more than 200 teachers had been killed. Jordan bore the brunt of refugees in the early stages, accepting more than 150,000 Syrians into the Zataari Refugee Camp, a camp which quickly grew to become Jordan's fifth largest city. A further 450,000 fled elsewhere into other cities in neighboring countries. Amongst them, it was said that more than 49 percent of school-age children had no access to education. Worse still, in Aleppo, Syria, the UN predicted more than 94 percent of school children had been forced to drop out of schools.
Commenting on the event, Her Excellency Ambassador Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations said: "Under the ongoing direction of the United Arab Emirates' leadership to support humanitarian efforts wherever needed, education and nutrition always play a critical role in transitioning a fragile state to a stable environment. Dubai Cares' commitment to the advancement of global education and now towards education in emergencies exemplifies our unified vision as a country to bring sustainable development to those in most need."
Rt Hon David Miliband, President and CEO, International Rescue Committee said: "The implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals must address the needs of the most vulnerable, including half of the world's out-of-school children who reside in conflict-affected countries and risk being marginalized. We risk failing a generation and creating a new inequality between poor children in stable countries versus those caught in fragile environments. There is a growing body of evidence on what works in these challenging environments and we must invest more in putting those lessons into practice. The IRC is honored to be partnering with Dubai Cares, which has already shown great leadership in addressing this vitally important global challenge."
During the event, Mr. Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management at the European Commission announced their commitment to increase their financial support to education in emergencies from 1% to 4% over the next couple of years.
According to the World Bank, people in crisis situations are more than twice as likely to be unable to send their children to school, twice as likely to see their children die before the age of five, and more than twice as likely to lack clean water.
"This makes the needs of children living in fragile states an urgent priority for us. Now, we [governments, education leaders and global donors] have to unite and collaborate more than ever in order to pioneer effective education solutions to be provided to the children affected by crises." Al Gurg concluded.
Among other events and meetings that Dubai Cares took part in during the visit, the UAE based philanthropic organization also participated in the UNICEF Early Childhood Care and Development (ECCD) Event – "Meeting of the Minds", which was attended by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake and UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Shakira. Speaking at the event, Tariq Al Gurg said: "Dubai Cares has been a strong advocate of Early Childhood Education (ECD) since 2011 through several programs in countries such as Bosnia & Herzegovina, Comoros Islands, Afghanistan, Palestine as well as Tanzania and Laos. We firmly believe that ECD is one of the most cost-effective investments that a country can make in terms of human capital formation. As per the evidence gathered during the last two decades, ECD programs yield long-lasting benefits in a wide range of interrelated areas, including school readiness, health outcomes and social interaction. Our focus areas have been and will continue to be in equity, quality, inter-sectorial collaboration and evidence based interventions."
Dubai Cares also participated in the Global Education First Initiative (GEFI) High Level Event: "Bridging the MDGs to the SDGs for Education 2030", which celebrated the achievements of GEFI and its partners in advancing the global education agenda. The event, "#EducationFirst for Sustainable Development", provided a platform for partners, Champion Countries and Youth Advocates to meet at the UN headquarters in New York during the High Level Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda. As a partner to and in support of the United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Global Education First Initiative, Dubai Cares has consistently aligned its programs in vulnerable communities by ensuring quality primary education, creating safe learning environments, increasing resources, facilitating support for parents and training teachers.
Tariq Al Gurg also showcased Dubai Cares' successful interventions in Ethiopia related to the power and benefit of integrated programming that yields both health and education outcomes, such as school deworming, home-grown school feeding, and WASH-in-Schools at the "Financing Health and Education: Girls Driving Development" side event led by the Global Partnership for Education, UNICEF and others. Dubai Cares' delegation also participated in the discussion of the #UpForSchool Town Hall, a special event that is the culmination of a year-long campaign for the #UpForSchool petition, launched last year, to get every child into school and learning, which now has more than 6 million supporters.