• 3 August 2014

Dubai Cares marked the successful conclusion of its “What If?” Ramadan campaign with the announcement of two new programs in Kenya and Uganda. Focused on improving teaching and learning capabilities using Information Communication Technology (ICT), the two new programs will tackle the issues stemming from lack of opportunities, developmental stagnation and insufficient support for teachers in developing countries. 

Announcing the launch of the programs, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: “The role of the teacher has evolved with the focus on education shifting from Education for All to Learning for All. In this climate, our two new programs prepare and qualify teachers and students in Kenya and Uganda to meet the educational demands and challenges of the modern era by using Information Communication Technology (ICT) in education. ICTs, such as mobile phones, desktops and tablets, present important tools in strengthening teaching and learning outcomes as it offers diverse opportunities for teacher development and a wider scale with regards to the number of beneficiaries. ICT is transforming the learning experience in classrooms around the globe and by using the technology to promote the standards of education in our beneficiary countries, we are swiftly closing the skill and knowledge gap between established and emerging markets.”

A recent World Bank study found that only 19% of public school teachers in Uganda and 35% in Kenya demonstrated basic knowledge of the curriculum. This has a debilitating effect on students’ learning experience and more than two out of every three students enrolled in grade three in East Africa fail to pass grade two tests in English, Kiswahili or Mathematics. The two new programs, to be implemented over three years are expected to benefit 500 teachers, 100 teacher trainers and education administrators as well as more than 150,000 students.

In both countries, Dubai Cares will work in partnership with the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) to roll-out the teacher training and school improvement programs, to test and demonstrate the transformative potential of using mobile phone technology, desktop computers and tablets. The projects focus on teacher training but will work across four areas: a) validating and delivering effective scalable models to mainstream the use of ICT in teacher professional development including their ability to use ICT in the classroom; b) improving access to both ICT hardware and software including contextually relevant and scalable digital contents for teachers and students;  c) validating and delivering an effective set of modules and strategies to establish capacity of management staff in the education system to provide regular and effective mentoring and support to teachers through the use of ICT; d) using ICT to monitor school performance and progress.

“We implement interventions ranging from building schools to ensuring hygienic sanitation facilities to organizing locally-sourced school meals. However, the most critical element that inspires a child’s learning experience is the teacher. Children learn only when their teachers are qualified educational facilitators who are motivated to teach. In countries where educational resource constraints and scarcity of opportunities limit the professional development of teachers, ICT offers an alternative platform for training and mentoring so that children – irrespective of where they are from – are taught with age-appropriate and contextually-relevant instructional approaches and materials,” added Al Gurg.  

Similar to many Dubai Cares initiatives, the two new programs in Kenya and Uganda are in line with the ‘Global Education First Initiative’ launched by United Nations’ Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in September 2012 and aimed at renewing and reinvigorating global commitments to education. Dubai Cares attended the launch of this global initiative during the week of the UN General Assembly in New York, where Ban Ki-Moon selected Dubai Cares to be a partner in this initiative.

Through the Government of Kenya’s Laptop Project and the Curriculum Net Project of the National Curriculum Development Centre in Uganda, the governments of Kenya and Uganda are already reaping the benefits of ICT in strengthening teaching and learning outcomes. The new programs are also expected to inform future policy and programming around ICT initiatives. They will also be expanded to over 1,200 AKF-supported primary schools across Kenya and Uganda.

The launch of the two programs also aligns with UAE’s emphasis on humanitarian support. The nation’s founder, H.H. Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, built robust humanitarian foundations for the country, which was the leading global donor of development aid against the national income in 2013. In 2012 alone, UAE donor organizations contributed AED 15.8 million to Uganda and AED 7.9 million to Kenya. 

“H.H. Sheikh Zayed believed that investing in people was the best possible way to invest in the future and this is what we are trying to accomplish at Dubai Cares. The importance of education in giving ambition wings is something we as a community innately understand. Thanks to the foresight of our forefathers, we are now part of a nation that is progressive, inclusive and global in outlook. Irrespective of the country we are from, our futures and aspirations are interlinked in a global society. By breaking down the barriers to education for children in developing countries, we are building up a prosperous and productive future for the next generation,” said Tariq Al Gurg.

Dubai Cares announced the two new programs upon the successful conclusion of its  “What if” Ramadan campaign, which received overwhelming support from the community, with businesses and individuals alike donating towards ensuring primary education for children in developing countries. The campaign urged the UAE community to take a step back and imagine the lives of children in developing countries, especially those who have to forgo school to help their families earn a living. The campaign highlighted the harsh living conditions primary-age children in developing countries have to face on a daily basis as well as the debilitating effects of poverty on these children.

“Our Ramadan Campaign struck a chord with the local community as we encouraged them to step into the shoes of children who have to struggle to access quality education. The UAE community rallied around the campaign, making generous donations and spreading the word far and wide,” concluded Al Gurg.

The campaign also included a “Build a Classroom: Change their Reality” activity at The Dubai Mall’s Star Atrium which was sponsored by Etisalat, gave participants the chance to build a simulated classroom through their donations as a symbol of providing children in developing countries with access to quality primary education. In 20 days, the classroom was built brick by brick every time a donation of AED 50 was made in support of the campaign. Canon Middle East supported the mall activity by managing the photography corner.

The Dubai Cares “What If?” Ramadan campaign was supported by the Arabian Radio Network (Media Sponsor), The Dubai Mall, OMD, Burj Al Arab, and VOX Cinemas. Corporate donors which financially supported the campaign comprise JAFZA, Dubai Investments, Lulu Hypermarkets and M.H. Alshaya Co.

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