On the occasion of the International Youth Day, Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, has launched two new programs in Rwanda aimed at providing youth in schools with skills training in leadership, entrepreneurship and workforce readiness along with mentorship to start real businesses at school as well as increasing access to quality Early Childhood Education (ECE) . The two programs, worth AED 8.9 million (USD 2.44 million), are set to benefit more than 18,600 young people and children across the country.
Dubai Cares has unveiled a two-year program titled “Learning and Innovation Partnership” with “Educate!” The program provides teachers with practical training and empowers mentors, equips students to be leaders, entrepreneurs, and work-ready, and supports them to start real businesses while still at school. The Dubai Cares-funded program which is set to benefit 16,000 young Rwandans will enable delivery of the second year of Educate! Exchange pilot at 100 schools in 2017 (Phase I), incorporate lessons learned into an improved model to be implemented in Phase II and deliver the improved intervention in a new batch of 175 schools in 2018 for continued learning and innovation.
Rwanda’s youth unemployment and underemployment rates are as high as 69 percent, with a serious mismatch between the skills young people have and those that employers want being identified and at least 70 percent of jobseekers lacking the qualifications for the types of position they are seeking.
Dubai Cares, in partnership with Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO), is also rolling out a 3-year program titled “Early Childhood Education: Strengthening School Readiness in Rwanda”. The program is designed to prepare 2,610 children aged from 3-6 years in Rwanda’s Nyamasheke district to enter a school environment. It aims to increase access to quality ECE through a pilot intervention composed of a combination of activities including providing regular in-service training and coaching for ECE teachers, and strengthening the education system’s capacity to provide children with school readiness skills they require to succeed in primary school. In addition, the program aims to empower school leaders, parent-teachers committee members, district education officials and education sector officials with skills needed to better manage their limited resources, as well as mainstream inclusion across the targeted district to incorporate children with disabilities.
Currently in Rwanda, by the end of the fourth academic year, only 32% of students attain reading fluency and 40% are unable to answer pre-comprehension questions. Children are not prepared to succeed in the class environment. This is reflected in the fact that primary level one has the highest repetition rate at 25%.
“For all the tremendous strides that Rwanda has made toward rebuilding in the wake of the horrors of civil war and genocide two decades ago, fundamental challenges and significant gaps in skills and capacity remain within its education system, and unless they are addressed, they will stand in the way of further progress,” said Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares. “Through its two new programs in Rwanda, Dubai Cares, with its partners, is focusing on pivotal issues at opposite ends of the education cycle – preparing children to succeed in school, and empowering young people with the skills necessary to succeed in a work environment and become positive contributors to their nation’s future development. Collectively, we believe these programs – which reflect both the emphasis on supporting Early Childhood Education that has always been at the core of Dubai Cares’ mission, and the expansion of our programmatic approach to address needs and challenges across the educational landscape – can help to nurture a generation of young Rwandans who are equipped and empowered to learn, and to achieve,” Al Gurg added.
“The positive educational policies put in place by Rwanda’s government need to be translated into genuine social impact,” Nada Al Hajjri, Country Program Officer said. “Dubai Cares’ programs in Rwanda aim to capitalize on political commitment to enhancing Early Childhood Education by establishing a sustainable pre-school preparation framework that engages and inspires children and their families, and support the continued improvement and success of a skills-based education model which - in its reach, relevance, and capacity to be integrated into the national education system – has all the criteria necessary to make a difference to young people’s lives,” Al Hajjri concluded.