Dubai Cares, a UAE-based philanthropic organization, has launched a primary education program in Pakistan to improve girls’ enrolment and retention. Implemented by Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA), a Pakistan-based non-governmental organization, the program will benefit 70,000 girls, 500 teachers, 4,500 mothers and over 15,000 community members in four districts in South Punjab and Upper Sindh. Approximately AED6 million (US$1.6 million) is being contributed by Dubai Cares to the program, which is in line with the UAE-based philanthropic organization’s commitment to UN Millennium Development Goals 2 and 3 – namely, to guarantee universal primary education and promote gender equality, respectively.
Founded in 2007 by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, Dubai Cares is working to improve children’s access to quality primary education in developing countries. Today, Dubai Cares is reaching 5 million beneficiaries in 24 developing countries with its primary education programs that integrate four key components: School Infrastructure; School Health & Nutrition; Water, Sanitation & Hygiene (WASH) in Schools; and Quality of Education.
Tariq Al Gurg, CEO of Dubai Cares, said: “With this program, Dubai Cares will reach over 300 schools in South Punjab and Upper Sindh and demonstrate the tremendous possibilities of creating child-friendly learning environments. We will work very closely with ITA to promote positive behavioral change among teachers and parents as duty bearers as well as strengthen the capacities of local NGOs. The relevance of this program is amplified due to the emergency response needs in the wake of the unparalleled floods that devastated parts of Pakistan in July 2010 and, most recently, just a few weeks ago.”
Covering four districts in South Punjab and Upper Sindh, the Dubai Cares program will help improve all aspects of the school environment for 64,000 children in 300 schools; provide 3,000 children in a minimum of 20 schools with essential basic school and educational materials to enable quality learning; construct 15 centers providing support in health, hygiene, life skills for 3,000 children ages 6 months to 6 years; and offer Early Childhood Development learning, recreation and nutrition training for 4,500 mothers and care givers.
This program builds upon a previously successful methodology by Dubai Cares that was implemented by Oxfam GB in Pakistan between 2008 and 2011. As a result of that program, there was an overall 14% increase in the enrolment of girls from poor towns and rural villages in 185 targeted schools. Under the same program, Dubai Cares renovated and reconstructed 41 schools; provided school supplies and materials; trained teachers; formed and trained School Management Committees; and conducted health and awareness sessions.
In the rural areas of Pakistan, one of the poorest countries in the world, boys are three times more likely than girls to receive a primary education. The number of schools available in Pakistan to accommodate girls is far less than what is required and well-trained teachers are in short-supply. According to the 2004 Pakistan School Statistics, 16% of public schools have no physical compound or buildings, more than three quarters have no electricity, almost half have no water and 60% are without latrines or sanitation facilities. As a result, girls’ enrolment rate at the primary level is 68 per cent and female literacy is a meager 29 per cent.