More than 300,000 children are out of school in Sierra Leone
Dubai Cares recently concluded the latest in a series of monitoring visits to developing countries where the UAE-based philanthropic establishment is implementing primary education programs.
A team from Dubai Cares visited Comoros, Mauritania and Sierra Leone to monitor and evaluate first-hand the progress of Dubai Cares’ programs which include training teachers and providing them with teaching and learning materials, establishing parent associations and implementing fully integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)-in-Schools pilot programs.
Launched in September 2007 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai Cares is implementing primary education programs in countries with the highest gap in primary education to reduce, and ideally eliminate, the underlying causes that prevent children’s access to quality primary education.
With programs in 24 countries around the world, Dubai Cares expresses the UAE’s commitment to United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2 of achieving universal primary education.
Commenting on the visit, Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares, said, “As per the directions of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Cares is continuously monitoring and evaluating all its programs to maximize its contribution to UN MDG 2 of achieving universal primary education.
The field visits are an important component of Dubai Cares’ program cycle. During these visits, we collect useful data that allows us to accurately measure the outputs and impacts of our primary education programs. As a result of these visits, we can identify any gaps that might require corrective measures or learn valuable lessons that can be transferred to other programs.”
Al Gurg added: “We recently also visited Jordan, Mali, Djibouti, Haiti and Indonesia. Meeting and interacting with the children, teachers and parents, and personally seeing the impact of our efforts in their lives, is what makes all the hard work so much more satisfactory and motivates us to do better.”
In Comoros, the team visited 25 schools of the 88 schools supported by Dubai Cares in Grand Comoros and Moheli Islands, where Dubai Cares, in partnership with UNICEF, is helping improve the quality of education by assisting in the reform of the national education system.
As part of the program, Dubai Cares is developing new learning materials and curriculum, training teachers and school directors and developing early childhood education centers. The program places particular emphasis on the zones with the lowest enrolment rates and aims to reduce the disparity in school enrolment between girls and boys from 13 to 3 percentage points as well as improve children’s readiness to start primary school on time, especially among girls and vulnerable children.
In Mauritania, the team visited 10 schools in the districts of Brakna, Boghe, and Kaedi to evaluate several interventions supported by Dubai Cares, including distribution of school benches, rehabilitating school latrines and supporting parent associations with income generating activities. In addition, the Dubai Cares team met with a local NGO, responsible for building latrines and promoting school health hygiene, to build 75 school latrines and visited regional governors and directors.
To ensure long-term and sustainable progress in the education sector, Dubai Cares is supporting UNICEF’s innovative approach in Mauritania, entitled “The School Project”, which aims to improve the school environment by reducing school fees, strengthening teachers’ capacity, improving the working conditions of teachers and ensuring greater public attraction to schools in order to maintain student retention, particularly for girls. The school project also aims to upgrade the skills and qualifications of teachers and School Parents Associations, allowing them to manage and take ownership of the schools and respond to its needs.
Sierra Leone is ranked 180 out of 182 in the UN Human Development Index. About 70% of the population is living below the poverty line. Only 39% of the population has access to improved sanitation and 57% has access to an improved water source and more than 300,000 children are out of school. Poor sanitation facilities and shortage of clean water are one of the key obstacles to school attendance, particularly for girls.
In Sierra Leone, Dubai Cares is working with UNICEF and Plan International to implement fully integrated Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)-in-Schools pilot programs in two area districts and provide school hygiene kits to every primary school in the country (over 5000 schools). The program aims to increase access to WASH facilities in schools and to improve the knowledge and practice of and attitude towards WASH. The Dubai Cares team attended the opening of a school in the Mathene community in Makarie Gbanti Chiefdom (Bombali Province), participated in the World Water Day Celebrations at St. Michael School, Kissy, as well as visited 5 project in Western Urban to evaluate the progress to date.