A Dubai Cares delegation led by Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of the organization successfully concluded a field visit in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), to witness the successful completion of the "Increasing Early Learning Opportunities for Children in Bosnia and Herzegovina" program. The UAE-based philanthropic organization launched the program in 2013 to increase access to early learning programs and to improve the physical, social and cognitive development of children aged four to six years in 46 municipalities across the country.
During the recent visit, the Dubai Cares delegation observed the impact of the program on local communities in Kakanj, Visoko, Sokolac, Foča, Zabrisce, Livno and Sarajevo. In addition to the field visits, the delegation met with several ministers and mayors in their respective cantons, representatives from the program's implementing partner, United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), as well as the program's Management Board to discuss lessons learned, best practices as well as share future plans and priorities in the area of Early Childhood Education (ECE).
Discussing the significance of the visit, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: "I was delighted to observe that Dubai Cares' Early Childhood Education (ECE) program in Bosnia and Herzegovina has paved the way for the adoption of legislation, policy development as well as public budgeting aimed at supporting the expansion of ECE in the country through evidence-based advocacy. This is a testament to the dedication and vision of everyone involved, including the Dubai Cares team, local governments and our implementing partner, UNICEF."
Over the last two years, the program has benefitted over 7,000 children by supporting the early years learning provision in the region. This was achieved through the creation of a comprehensive 300-hour pre-school program which aimed to educate, inspire and prepare children for full-time primary schooling. There was also a strong community-led focus to increase understanding and inclusion of children with developmental delays and disabilities and those from the Roma community.
As part of the program, 176 hours of training was delivered to 298 professionals working in early years education services. This provided a long-term and sustainable strategy to facilitate the continued provision of pre-school education in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The creation of comfortable and adequately-equipped learning facilities was also delivered through the provision of furniture, learning materials and resources to 160 primary schools, kindergartens and rehabilitation centers.
As part of the program's key focus on supporting vulnerable children, Early Childhood Intervention (ECI) resource rooms were implemented in eight municipalities. These specialist facilities assist with the critical early detection and intervention of developmental delays in children.