A Dubai Cares delegation led by Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer, today (20 November 2013) officially launched a two-year Early Childhood Education program in Bosnia & Herzegovina. The program, which represents Dubai Cares second intervention in the country, will be implemented in partnership with the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).
The program aims to increase access to organized quality early learning programs prior to primary school entry, and improve the physical, socio-emotional and cognitive development of more than 7,000 children over a two-year period in 45 municipalities across the country. It also places special emphasis on vulnerable children, such as Roma children and children with developmental delays and disabilities.
Speaking at a press conference in Sarajevo to announce the launch of the program, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: “Education is one of the most powerful tools that can be utilized in the fight against poverty. Its significance is amplified in evolving nations like Bosnia & Herzegovina, where educated youth will have to play a key role in the prosperity and growth of this country. This program will help develop the human capital in Bosnia & Herzegovina, providing an opportunity for more children to enroll and benefit from pre-school education. Children in 30% of all municipalities across Bosnia & Herzegovina will now have access to pre-school education.”
According to Al Gurg’s closing remarks at the press conference: “Through his numerous, far-reaching initiatives across the globe, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai taught us the true meaning of philanthropy, especially in the context where coordinated efforts have a greater potential in achieving sustainable impact. This program represents our second intervention in the country thanks to the government of Bosnia & Herzegovina and our partner UNICEF which have been working closely with us to ensure our partnerships turn into success stories.”
Dr. Zlatko Lagumdžija, Deputy Chairman of the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Minister of Foreign Affairs: “I am very pleased that I had the opportunity to meet the representatives of Dubai Cares, a humanitarian organization whose focus of action is directed to children and their education. I hope that the cooperation between Dubai Cares with the relevant institutions of Bosnia and Herzegovina will be continued in the future, as a product of our mutual satisfaction, because these projects are a direct investment in children and knowledge, the two highest values for the future of our country and the whole world.”
In Bosnia and Herzegovina, UNICEF has been supporting the implementation of the Framework Law on Preschool Education through close cooperation with State, Entity, Cantonal and Municipal governments for the expansion of quality preschool education throughout the country. Significant increases in enrolment have already been achieved in particular in Canton Zenica-Doboj, in Republika of Srpska and in several municipalities. In order to facilitate the inclusion of children with disabilities, UNICEF has also been supporting early detection of developmental delays, parenting education and individualized approaches for vulnerable children.
Florence Bauer, UNICEF Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina said: “Support to early childhood education and early intervention in case of developmental delays represents a rare example where policies can support human development, social equity as well as economic productivity and development. Studies have shown that quality early childhood education, with a focus on the most vulnerable combined with parenting support, presents a unique opportunity to enhance education outcomes and to break the vicious cycle of poverty and social exclusion. The support from Dubai Cares is instrumental to building on initial results and expanding access to quality pre-school education in Bosnia and Herzegovina."
According to the latest figures by the United Nations, globally, at least 250 million children cannot read, write or count well, including those with four years of education, and 57 million primary aged children remain without access to school. With research indicating that investing in the early development of human capital can lead to the greatest economic and social returns, Dubai Cares has been working towards eliminating the social and economic obstacles that keep primary-age children, in developing countries around the world, from going to school and learning.
The program is linked to the growing awareness of early childhood education in ensuring the holistic development of children. In order to facilitate complete mental, physical and socio-emotional growth, young children need to be exposed to an environment that offers socialization, education, healthcare, adequate nutrition, nurturing, intellectual, as well as creative stimulation.
This program is also in alignment with the UN Secretary General’s ‘Global Education First Initiative’, which seeks to put every child in school, improve the quality of learning in developing countries and foster global citizenship. In September 2012, Dubai Cares was selected to be a member in the Technical Advisory Group of the 5-year initiative and has supported it through its programs in developing countries.
Conceptualized and set up by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Cares is dedicated to increasing access to quality primary education for children in developing countries. As part of its mandate to eliminate the underlying obstacles that prevent children from going to school and learning, Dubai Cares focuses on building and renovating schools and classrooms, improving water, sanitation and hygiene in schools, providing school feeding, deworming activities, early childhood education, as well as teacher training, curriculum development, literacy and numeracy.
In 2008, Dubai Cares launched its first program in Bosnia & Herzegovina aimed at preventing social risks and promoting social unity among children and adolescents. To date, Dubai Cares is reaching more than 8 million children in 31 developing countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Bangladesh, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Cambodia, Chad, Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Ethiopia, Ghana, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Laos, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, Philippines, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Yemen, Zambia as well as Palestinian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.