As part of its Education in Emergencies strategy which consists of providing children the opportunity to learn and cope during and after crises, Dubai Cares has officially announced a 3-year program known as ‘Post-Earthquake Recovery Efforts for Education in Nepal’ in partnership with Room to Read. The AED 9,183,750 (USD 2,500,000) program, which has been launched during a field visit conducted late November by a Dubai Cares delegation led by Chief Executive Officer, includes a two-phase recovery intervention: the first one focuses on infrastructure and learning environments including the reconstruction and renovation of 10 schools, which include 115 classrooms, in the Nuwakot district; and the second one consists of implementing a holistic literacy program targeting children between the ages of 4 to 10 in 100 schools.
In April 2015, a massive, 7.9 magnitude earthquake hit a vast, mountainous region between Kathmandu, the country’s capital, and the city of Pokhara. A severe aftershock followed a few days later bringing the death toll to more than 8,800 people, of which 2,300 were children. More than 875,000 homes were damaged or destroyed, as well as schools, medical facilities and other infrastructures. About 1 million students were left without access to school, 32,000 classrooms were destroyed, and an additional 15,000 were damaged. It was the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in the past 80 years.
Speaking from the field during his visit to schools set to benefit from the reconstruction efforts, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: “Natural disasters such as Nepal’s devastating earthquake are in the international headlines for a few weeks, but after that the real work of rebuilding the fractured communities must begin. In line with our commitment to supporting Education in Emergencies, Dubai Cares intends to help children go back to school to minimize disruption of their education and exposure to risks of neglect, exploitation and trafficking. Dubai Cares is well placed to offer a helping hand that will make a hugely positive contribution to children’s community that has suffered unimaginable trauma.”
Praising Dubai Cares’ significant contribution to the post-earthquake rebuilding efforts and more specifically the education landscape in Nepal, H.E. Saeed Hamdan, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Nepal said: “Dubai Cares’ efforts in Nepal, as well as the humanitarian interventions led by the UAE, reflect the principles of the UAE leadership and people’s commitment to supporting countries make progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. This has helped the UAE be at the forefront in the field of philanthropic and charity work.”
Dubai Cares’ program in Nepal also aims to support the long-term response in favor of children who experienced psychological distress following the earthquake that disrupted their ability to learn. 10 schools, which consist of 115 classrooms, covering the pre-school, primary and secondary levels will benefit from reconstruction projects in line with the Nepali government’s new building standards, thus creating child-friendly and safe learning environments.
Building on previous experiences that generated evidence on the impact of reading in learning outcomes, Dubai Cares’ implementing partner, Room to Read, will implement its specialized literacy program in 100 schools, benefiting an additional 20,000 children. This will be done by providing training to teachers in reading and writing instruction, library management, activities encouraging reading habits as well as provision of quality reading materials. In addition, the program includes community engagement in early planning and decision-making, mobilizing families to encourage literacy development, and providing them with the tools and resources to support their children’s education. The program will also involve the local and national government in Nepal to promote widespread adoption of program activities.
Sinda Ouertani, Country Program Officer at Dubai Cares said: “We cannot underestimate the trauma children experience during and after natural disasters. In order to increase their chances to continue their education and effectively learn, we must be able to target our efforts towards providing a safe learning environment as well as incorporate reading activities. Through this program, Dubai Cares aims to help children overcome the adversities that can lead to long-term negative effects on their cognitive, physical and social development.”
By implementing this program, Dubai Cares aims to provide immediate, medium and long-term support to crisis and disaster inflicted areas. The intervention in Nepal will not only ensure that children have a safe and resilient school environment to restart their education but also access to sensitized teaching and reading materials that support their socio-emotional recovery.
“Through this program in Nepal, Dubai Cares seeks to help children affected by natural disasters to regain the sense of normalcy by enabling them to go back to school. We will continue to do our best to make sure children get the help they need to stay safe and strong, as well as the support and resources they need to rebuild their lives in the long-term”, Al Gurg added.
Dubai Cares’ Education in Emergencies strategy ensures that children and youth exposed to years of war-related and natural disasters’ traumas have access to safe and predictable learning opportunities that teach them both the academic and social-emotional skills they need to learn and thrive. Dubai Cares’ new program in Nepal is in line with this strategy and follows the launch of the organization’s community awareness and fundraising campaign titled #LastILearned. The campaign, which was launched in October 2016, aims to build awareness and raise funds in support of the plight of children affected by conflict and natural disasters.