A delegation led by Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, has successfully concluded a field visit to Colombia to monitor and evaluate the progress of its program titled ‘Protecting Conflict-Affected Children and Youth Through Education in Northeast Colombia’ that was launched in 2017, as well as participate in an in-country program launch alongside the programs’ implementing partners, the UAE Embassy to Colombia and local authorities. The AED 11 million (USD 2.994 million) program extends for 3 years and targets vulnerable girls, boys and youth affected by the conflict in Arauca and Norte de Santander, and directly benefits 15,000 children and young people.
The program which is being implemented in partnership with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Save the Children, aims to address four major challenges: the increasing number of out-of-school children and youth, low transition rates from primary to secondary schools, highly-dispersed rural areas and the poor quality of education. Moreover, the program engages out-of-school children and youth through non-formal education (through a bridging program and through Flexible Education Models) and provides technical support to the Secretariat of Education, as well as schools to ensure educational services for the out-of-school children and youth. The program also works on strengthening and improving results in access to education, education quality, in addition to education management in Northern Colombia.
Speaking about the visit and its outcomes, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares, said: “A five decade-long war in Colombia has resulted in the most prolonged and serious humanitarian crisis in the Americas, with children and young people bearing the brunt of this conflict. We at Dubai Cares believe that education is vital to building peace and the provision of post-conflict assistance through our program in Colombia is a testimony of our commitment to help those in need in countries affected by conflicts, disasters and epidemics. Our visit to Arauca in Colombia allowed us to clearly witness the impact of the work being carried out by our implementing partners who are working tirelessly to protect Venezuelan refugee and Colombian returnee children and youth affected by conflict, through education.”
Commenting on the UAE’s strong relationship with Colombia, H.E. Mohammed Eissa Alqattam Alzaabi, UAE Ambassador to Colombia, said: “The UAE and Colombia have a strong bond of friendship which was further deepened with the recent official visit to the UAE by Juan Manuel Santos, President of Colombia. Furthermore, Dubai Cares’ visit to Colombia to witness the impact of its program on the ground is a true reflection of the UAE leadership’s commitment to boosting bilateral relations with Columbia.”
During its visit, the delegation met with H.E Yaneth Giha, National Minister of Education in Bogota in the presence of H.E Mohammed Eissa Alqattam Alzaabi, UAE Ambassador to Colombia; Christian Visnes, Country Director for NRC; and Maria Paula Rodrigue, Country Director for Save the Children.
Arauca and Norte de Santander have been historically affected by conflicts and both face high levels of vulnerability with most of the population living in a situation of poverty (40% of the population in Norte de Santander and 61% of the population in Arauca). There is an increasing number of out-of-school children and youth, as a direct consequence of the conflicts. In Arauca and Norte de Santander only 31% and 32% of the students enrolled at primary level respectively, do reach secondary level and only 6% of children entering Grade 1 complete their secondary education.