Dubai Cares attended the World Education Forum 2015 hosted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultral Orginization (UNESCO), which took place in Incheon, South Korea from May 19-22, as well as participated in a panel discussion titled "Using Evidence in Policy Making and Practice". The discussion tackled the need for a strong evidence-base in education outcomes, what programs work best to change those outcomes and the systems in place to widely implement those programs.
The forum, was attended by South Korean President Park Geun-hye and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, presented a unique platform for global leaders in education; ministers; policy-makers; representatives of UN Agencies, international NGOs, civil society and foundations; teachers; experts and the private sector to take stock of achievements and shortfalls in the implementation of the Education For All (EFA) goals and education-related Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and to agree on a joint position for the education goal and targets in the post-2015 development agenda, which will be adopted by UN Member States at the UN High-Level Summit in September 2015.
During his participation in a panel discussion alongside Ministers of Education, chief executives from international NGOs and senior representatives from the World Bank, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: "In light of scarce resources, we all want to know which solutions and approaches give us the biggest education gains. We need to systematically and thoroughly test different solutions to help us choose between many seemingly good ideas. The more we learn through rigorous testing and evaluation, the closer we get to understand the key elements for success."
Dubai Cares actively supports initiatives that promote evidence-based programming. For instance, the UAE-based organization is part of The Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE), which aims to identify and accelerate innovation in secondary education, contribute to policy-based reforms, and capture and disseminate learnings to key stakeholders. Dubai Cares is also part of the Building Evidence in Education (BE2) network, which engages bilateral and multilateral organizations committed to increasing the quality of education research, promoting the use of evidence in education programming and strengthening donor research collaboration.
"Until recently, we had limited knowledge about what works and what doesn't work in the fight against poverty, specifically in the sphere of education and learning. We must continue funding evidence-generating efforts in developing countries as there is immense value in learning from the outcomes of our work. Evaluation and research allow us to learn why a certain approach works while others do not, and which elements should be mended or abandoned. More evidence will not only help us utilize funds better, but will also enable us to mobilize more resources to achieve a greater impact," Al Gurg concluded.
Dubai Cares has strategically supported interventions that have proven to work, which provide important lessons on priority actions and enabling success factors. Examples include: Read India, a Dubai Cares program, in partnership with Pratham, which has shown that reading camps can effectively boost reading levels in marginalized areas, and that many innovative solutions can be found by thinking 'outside the classroom'. Another example is Literacy Boost, a Dubai Cares program in partnership with Save the Children consisting of a number of methodologies aimed at enhancing reading skills in early grades through in-classroom and home-based interventions. It focuses on the core skills that research shows are central to learning to read. School-based deworming is a third example, which Dubai Cares partnered with The END Fund and Thrive Networks to implement. In the last decade, school-based deworming has been one of the great success stories of evidence-based decision-making in developing countries. Several research studies have demonstrated that deworming has immense long lasting gains at very low costs. Dubai Cares currently supports several deworming interventions in partnership with several organizations and governments.
In addition, Dubai Cares aims to test alternative models and hypothesis that directly contribute to the evidence-base. For example, in Tanzania, the organization works closely with the government and civil society to enhance existing pre-primary instruction and supporting innovative strategies in line with current policy initiatives. As part of the program, a rigorous impact evaluation and costing analysis will be conducted in order to support future policies and investment decisions in the Early Childhood Education area.
Dubai Cares is also supporting a program in Laos which responds to the Ministry of Education's interest in increasing evidence in the most effective interventions to improve primary school retention and learning outcomes in early grades. Through a sophisticated monitoring and evaluation system and ongoing research, this project will be able to assess which intervention model is most effective in terms of student reach, cost per child, scalability and impact on early grade retention and learning.
Over the past seven years, Dubai Cares, with the support of the UAE community, has been facilitating change and development in children's education in developing communities around the globe. The organization is currently reaching more than 13 million beneficiaries in 39 developing countries.