A delegation led by Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares recently visited Vietnam to witness the launch of a three-year program that aims to scale-up a librarian training model that will help underserved students adopt and grow a habit of reading. The AED 7,347,000 (USD 2 million) program is set to support the government in increasing the number of child-friendly libraries across the country. The program seeks to establish 320 libraries in 18 districts and publish 5 new book titles in Vietnamese, benefiting over 140,000 children.
The program is part of a long-standing partnership with Room to Read, whose early-grade literacy program was selected as a 2018 Goalkeepers Accelerator, the multiyear campaign from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to accelerate progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, is supporting the government replication and scale-up of the promising program in Vietnam. Dubai Cares’ support also allows Room to Read to establish “demonstration libraries” that will be replicated by the government in priority areas, in partnership with the Ministry of Education and Training (MoET).
Commenting on this ambitious three-year program, Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares said: “The Vietnamese government opened the door to improving the culture of reading in 2005 when they made libraries a requirement for all primary schools. Unfortunately, the rooms are rarely used for their original intended purpose or lack appropriate books for children to read, especially in their local languages. We are pleased with the long-standing partnership with Room to Read, whose literacy program has been instrumental in boosting the reading habit in various countries. We are delighted to join forces with them again in Vietnam and support the Vietnamese Government to ensure that all primary schools across the country have quality libraries. This will not only open a new world of discovery to tens of thousands of children in Vietnam, but also advance the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
During their visit to the Southeast Asian Country, the Dubai Cares delegation met with His Excellency Obaid Saeed Obaid bin Taresh Al Dhaheri, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Vietnam, who highlighted the impact of education on the progress of mankind and the advancement of nations, through its vital role in the upbringing of children, building minds of young people and the emergence of new generations imbued with science and education. His Excellency also pointed out that “the education sector holds a significant share in the UAE’s foreign aid policy,” adding that “Dubai Cares' launch of new educational programs and the delegation’s current visit to Vietnam, which are in line with UAE’s Year of Tolerance objectives, is one of the pillars in strengthening relations and cultural exchange as well as opening new horizons for the relations between the UAE and Vietnam in the fields of culture and education.”
Dr. Geetha Murali, Chief Executive Officer of Room to Read said: “Through our partnership with Dubai Cares and the Ministry of Education and Training in Vietnam, Room to Read’s approach is combining the science of learning to read with the magic of loving to read, developing a generation of independent readers who have a strong foundation for all future learning. Dubai Cares has helped Room to Read to scale up its library model in Vietnam to 18 new provinces in the last year, equipping hundreds of schools and communities with the resources, materials and training needed to create safe and child-friendly libraries.”
Dubai Cares’ delegation also visited 3 schools in Hòa Bình province, where it witnessed the opening of 3 libraries in the presence of representatives from the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training and the Education District Office. The delegation then concluded the visit with a meeting with Dr. Pham Quang Hung, Director General of the International Cooperation Department at the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training.
Vietnam is a lower-middle income country of over 95 million people (2017) in the easternmost part of the Indochina peninsula, and one of the most impoverished in the world. It is ranked 116th out of 189 countries in the latest UNDP’s Human Development Index. Vietnam faces education challenges after decades of war and economic hardship. The average literacy rate stands at over 95 percent but the culture of reading is not prevalent, due to the lack of libraries in primary schools and low access to appropriate books for children.