Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, has announced four new programs that will directly address key educational issues, tackle obstacles to education, and bring new opportunities within the reach of thousands of children in the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean Islands. The programs, worth AED 12,778,857 (USD 3,478,660), are set to benefit more than 6,350 school children and will be implemented in Antigua and Barbuda, St. Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean, as well as Vanuatu and Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean respectively. These four programs aim to support countries and islands severely affected by climate change.
In the Caribbean, Dubai Cares has launched two new programs, with the first being in St. Vincent and the Grenadine and in partnership with “The Zero Hunger Trust Fund”. The program aims to improve the schools’ internal facilities to foster health and safety by supporting children’s learning opportunities; and ensuring they have at least one nutritious meal per day. The program provides 2,139 school children with monitored school feeding across 12 primary schools. In addition, it encourages a greater number of children to participate in school feeding by providing healthy and nutritious school meals and on-going nutrition awareness to parents and individuals preparing meals under the school feeding program.
Dubai Cares’ program in Antigua and Barbuda, titled ‘Renovation of Villa Primary School in Antigua and Barbuda’, is being implemented in partnership with the Extended Arms Foundation and aims to renovate the Villa Primary School Antigua, and improve the physical environment and infrastructure at the school. This program, which benefits 355 school children, meets the government's commitment to providing quality education for the children of Antigua while using the renovated Villa Primary School as a benchmark for future schools in the country.
Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares said, “The four new programs in the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean Islands are designed to drive lasting institutional and structural changes, aimed at enhancing the quality of education through awareness-raising activities, strategic planning and intervention, policy involvement and technical training. These programs reflect our commitment to continuously identify new interventions, particularly where countries are in need of resources, improved infrastructures and provide quality education to support the development of children. Moreover, our recent intervention in Antigua and Barbuda comes at a time when support to the education sector in the Caribbean is much needed due to the recent devastation brought on by hurricane Irma.”
In the Pacific Ocean, Dubai Cares is rolling out a two-year program in Vanuatu in partnership with UNICEF titled ‘Access to Early Childhood Development and Increasing Primary school readiness in Vanuatu’. The program aims to adopt a holistic and integrated approach to improve early childhood education through several components such as quality of instruction, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities, nutrition, and child protection. The intervention also addresses parenting support and improving quality of service provision at early childhood centers in order to improve school readiness and the transition from pre-school to primary school. The program is in line with the Pacific Multi-Country Program (2013-2017) and the with Ministry of Education’s Early Childhood Development (ECD) strategy. It will be implemented in Penama province and will target pre-schools and parents in 84 communities. This will generate a structure and solid findings for replication and potential scale up, influencing key ECD-related policy decisions in the country and the region as a whole.
In Kiribati, Dubai Cares’ program aims to support the government in developing policy and quality standards to improve the existing national curriculum and services. The program, which is also being implemented in partnership with UNICEF, explores the introduction and operationalization of a one-year school readiness program for all five-year olds in Kiribati. In addition, the program involves capacity-building and development of the Ministry of Education staff through education policy review and analysis, technical expertise, and piloting of a pre-primary education program. This program is implemented concurrently with the “Kiribati Development Plan” which is a national comprehensive plan funded by multiple international organizations. This two-year program benefits around 1,000 school children.
According to UNESCO’s institute of statistics, there are more than 9,000 children in the pre-primary age in Kiribati. Furthermore, according to the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), only 64% of 6-years-old children enroll in grade 1, whereas 10% of the population has never attended primary school.
“Our four new programs aim to impact various communities spread across these islands in the Caribbean and Pacific Ocean by improving the learning environment in these countries so that there is an improvement in the academic performance of students”, Al Gurg concluded