A delegation led by His Excellency Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, recently visited India to witness the successful conclusion of its education program, launched in 2013 in partnership with Pratham. The program focused on enhancing literacy and numeracy skills, as well as Early Childhood Education (ECE) services. In recognition of the successes and impact of this program, the visit also saw the launch of a new ECE program that aims to tackle the challenges and gaps in Early Childhood Education (ECE) in the country.
Dubai Cares’ program achieves the desired outcome
Dubai Cares had previously launched a 3-year AED 19,637,348 (USD 5,345,678) program, out of which AED 3,122,475 (USD 850,000) was a contribution from Al Ansari Exchange. Titled “Improving Quality of Learning in India”, the program included 3 components: Read India III campaign, Urban Early Childhood Education Program and the Central Resource Group, which have collectively benefited 608,830 children with early literacy & numeracy and school readiness support. The first component helped improve the language and math learning levels among children in rural government schools in 6 states, thus achieving a 53% increase in the number of children who could read at a standard 2 level. The second component helped foster school readiness in preschool-aged children and improve literacy and numeracy in early grades in 12 cities, including Mumbai, Delhi, and cities in Maharashtra and Gujarat. The third component helped develop teaching and learning content and training for Pratham staff and government school-teachers.
Commenting on the success of the program, His Excellency Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares said: “I am glad to witness the success of Dubai Cares’ Literacy and Numeracy program in India. The government of India has been extremely attentive to communities that require education support; however, lack of resources required to deliver quality education to children still exists. We are proud that Dubai Cares has played a key role to bridge the gap in this area, in-line with the government strategy. We are also pleased with the positive results the program has achieved in general, and more specifically in terms of enhancing the learning levels among children at the ECE level. Pratham India has been an invaluable partner to us, and I am gratified by how many lives we were able to transform during that short period of time.”
His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Abdulrahman Al Banna, UAE Ambassador to India said: “We are proud of Dubai Cares’ efforts towards supporting education in India in partnership with Pratham. The success, which both organizations have achieved so far is commendable. These efforts support the UAE’s strategy for foreign aid, and help further strengthen the ties between the two countries. We wish them best of luck for their future endeavour and assure the embassy's support for this noble cause.”
His Excellency Navdeep Suri, Indian Ambassador to the UAE said: “I am deeply impressed by the impact that Dubai Cares is making in the field of primary education. Their collaboration with a highly regarded NGO like Pratham is not just helping large numbers of children in India; it is also producing best practice templates for Early Childhood Education that other countries are starting to emulate.”
New program to address significant ECE challenges and gaps
Driven by the success of the first program, Dubai Cares has renewed its partnership with Pratham India towards a new ECE program titled, “Improving Early Childhood Education in India”. The AED 7,347,000 (USD 2 million) program aims to improve developmental abilities and school readiness among 302,000 children between the ages of 3 and 6 years, enhance participation of mothers in the development of foundational skills among children, as well as strengthen government infrastructure for delivering quality Early Childhood Education. Critically, the program will enable Pratham to provide strong support to the government and encourage sustainable uptake and delivery of content and methodology.
Commenting on the importance of the new program, His Excellency Al Gurg said: “Early Childhood Education has been proven to have a positive link to future academic performance. It is an investment for life, due to the role it plays in promoting inclusive economic growth and prosperity. We believe that through this program, Pratham can effectively support the government as it seeks to bring its ECE programs to scale. We are confident that the new program will prepare thousands more children to succeed in both school and life.
Dr. Rukmini Banerji, CEO of Pratham Education Foundation said: “Dubai Cares has been one of Pratham’s core partners since 2013. Through their support we have been able to work towards improving the quality of our programs, while simultaneously advancing our collaborations with governments over the years. The next phase of support from Dubai Cares is particularly crucial as we sharpen our focus and scale up our work in the Early Childhood Education space in India. On behalf of the Pratham team and all the children who have benefited over the years, I would like to thank Dubai Cares and look forward to our journey together.”
Dubai Cares’ delegation attends high-profile meetings and conducts program site visits
As part of the agenda, Dubai Cares’ delegation met with Pratham’s Co-founder Madhav Chavan and its CEO Dr. Rukmini Banerji in Delhi, as well as visited program sites in Trilokpuri that are part of both the initial and new programs. The delegation then moved to Lucknow to visit further program sites and meet with Sarvendra Vikram Bahadur Singh, Director, Basic Education, Government of Uttar Pradesh. The delegation then returned to Delhi, with the trip concluding with a meeting with His Excellency Manish Sisodia, Deputy Chief Minister and Education Minister, Delhi Government.
India has achieved close to universal school enrolment. Recent figures for rural India indicate that over 96% of children (in the age group 6-14 years) are enrolled in a nearby school. Reaching universal enrolment in a country as big and diverse as India is an impressive achievement. However, despite this success, learning outcomes for children are still low, with significant and accumulating lags in foundational skills. The importance of Early Childhood Education has been acknowledged in the Indian context through constitutional provisions, legislations and policy. However, with over 164 million children under the age of six in India, the task at hand is huge.