According to UNESCO's 2010 Education for All Report (EFA), the number of children out of school has dropped by 33 million worldwide since 1999, but according to the World Food Program (WFP) statistics, there are still approximately 72 million school-age children worldwide who do not attend school. Another 66 million primary school-aged children in developing countries attend school hungry, with 23 million of them in Africa alone. If the trend continues, 56 million children will still be out of school in 2015.
Therefore, under the direction of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Cares has announced a ‘School Feeding Campaign’ as part of its endeavor to help attain the UN Millennium Development Goal 2 of achieving universal primary education by 2015. This campaign which will commence with Ramadan and run until the end of November 2010, will aim to provide school children in developing countries with the required daily nutrition and adequate food in order to improve their access to quality primary education.
Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares said, “Access to nutritious food is a major obstacle in many developing nations and must be incorporated into any comprehensive education development program. Dubai Cares’ School Feeding Campaign will provide the UAE community with another chance to help realize the vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum of providing children in developing countries with access to primary education”, added Al Gurg.
As per WFP 2009 statistics, during the first year of school feeding assistance in 32 sub-Saharan African countries, the absolute enrolment rates for girls increased by 28% while those for boys increased by 22%. WFP’s 2009 school feeding programs encouraged 22 million children in 70 countries to attend and stay in school, half of which were girls.
Approximately 54% of children out of school are girls. Almost 12 million girls may never enroll in schools in sub-Saharan Africa alone. For example in Yemen, nearly 80% of girls out of school are unlikely to ever enroll, compared with 36% of boys. Al Gurg highlighted the importance of achieving the UN Millennium Development Goal 3 (to promoting gender equality and empower women) to Dubai Cares. He stated that the funds raised will be utilized in developing countries for the implementation of on-site school feeding programs to all children, while also focusing on gender equality by providing take home food rations that act as an incentive for parents to enroll their girls at school.
Since its launch in 2007, Dubai Cares has been working towards eliminating the main obstacles that prevent children’s access to quality primary education. “Dubai Cares’ programs address our value chain of primary education and include assistance in the areas of Infrastructure, Quality of Education, Water and Sanitation, and Health and Nutrition. In 2010 Dubai Cares is taking a leadership role in highlighting the vital link between children’s health and nutrition and how this adversely affects their access to education”, said Al Gurg.