The programme follows a comprehensive gender sensitive approach to address the specific barriers that prevent girls from receiving education in the Philippines. These issues include gender-related violence, gender-bias in the classroom, as well as societal considerations such as early marriage and pregnancy, financial and familial pressures. By addressing these issues, the program is supporting over 14,700 vulnerable children and adolescents, 70% of those will be girls who are deemed at risk of dropping out of school before graduating.
Commenting on the importance of the program in addressing gender inequality in the Philippines, Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares said: “It is vital to recognize the importance of addressing gender-related discrimination in education if we are to put an end to poverty, which inhibits the future prospects of young people and the communities they live in. It is the mission of such programs to eradicate the gender gap between boys and girls in terms of economic and educational participation and to empower adolescent females to participate in a fulfilling education program, to improve their social, educational and career development. Witnessing the improvements that have already taken place in Northern Samar and Masbate is telling of the transformative power of the program, and the great steps that have already been taken in improving the prospects of adolescents living in the country’s poorest communities”.
Central to the success of the Real Assets & Improved Skills & Education for Adolescent Girls (RAISE) program is incorporating activities that focus on improving quality and relevance of education offered to the students and creating a supportive nurturing environment for girls to learn and prosper.
The program builds upon Dubai Cares’ gender equality approach which tackles context-specific barriers to girls’ education that occur at different developmental stages. Program activities include training for teachers to support marginalized children, especially adolescent girls, and providing support for the transition of students from primary to secondary education. For those children unable to complete secondary education, an improved alternate learning system has been established to facilitate informal access to education.
In addition, a fundamental element of the program is encouraging adolescents to make positive life choices. Recent statistics show that 1 in 5 girls of lower secondary school age is not attending school, and a study by UNICEF found that 1 in every 3 girls in the developing world is married by the age of 18. Statistics show that a country’s investment in girls’ education can have a monumental impact on society at large, as it can raise the country’s GDP by as much as 0.2%.
Mada Alsuwaidi, Senior Country Program Officer at Dubai Cares commented during her visit: "The program has helped many out-of-school children continue their education through the alternative learning system. Children who are unable to attend school regularly for reasons including early marriage, early pregnancy, employment, and family commitments, are given a chance to complete their primary and secondary education while managing their daily responsibilities. For many children, this is the only way to secure their future; without this program, they would have no chance of completing their education."
Gender equality is a cross-cutting theme in all of Dubai Cares education programs which aim to provide equal opportunities for girls and boys around the world to receive a quality education through the implementation of safe learning environments, access to healthcare, adequate facilities and teacher training and support.