President Bill Clinton launched the Varkey GEMS Foundation today, a not for profit charitable initiative, aimed at impacting the lives of 10 million children globally. The foundation is part of GEMS Education, a Dubai based company and the largest kindergarten to grade 12 private education operator in the world.
Speaking at Dubai American Academy, a GEMS school, President Clinton said, "A quality education is the key to solving our most pressing global challenges. Education opens a whole new world of opportunities and choices for millions of underprivileged children. The benefits from an educated child will affect not only the child itself, but his or her family and the wider community. The Varkey GEMS Foundation's commitment will bring that opportunity to millions more children around the world."
Chairman of GEMS Education, Sunny Varkey says, “As we celebrate our 50th year in Dubai and the Middle East GEMS is all the more committed to play a leading role in improving both the quality and access to education for children.
“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai has been at the forefront of philanthropic activities and we draw immense inspiration from Dubai’s spirit of ‘giving’.
“I believe that education is the most important issue in the world today. The fact that there are 70 million school age children worldwide who have never attended school is intolerable. For us to confront, collectively, all the conflict, the prejudice, poverty, intolerance and unprecedented environmental challenges, we need to improve both the quality and access to education worldwide.”
Mr Varkey says that the Middle East will benefit from the foundation’s work in the area of Scholarships, “The Varkey GEMS Foundation will provide thousands of scholarships and assistance to the most gifted, yet underprivileged children around the world and a number of those will be identified in the Middle East.
The Varkey GEMS Foundation, through GEMS Education, will utilize its vast resources and expertise to provide innovative, sustainable solutions to this important global issue. It will involve its 100,000 students from 125 nationalities, its 9,000 staff and hundreds of thousands of parents.
Throughout GEMS’ 50 year history, students, parents, teachers and the Varkey family have raised or contributed in excess of US$50 million for causes that matter most to them. In addition GEMS Education provides scholarships and subsidies to more than 3,000 children in its own network of schools on an annual basis.
The CEO of the Varkey GEMS Foundation, Vikas Pota, says the foundation will focus on four key areas; scholarships for underprivileged children, teacher training, professional development and mentoring for school leaders and providing policy input through its strategic partnerships.
GEMS Education already works in partnership with the Clinton Global Initiative, the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, Dubai Cares and Pratham.
Mr Pota says, “The Varkey GEMS Foundation was established because we believe our charitable work needed to be more structured and strategic in order to meet our goal of impacting one hundred underprivileged children for every child enrolled at a GEMS school”.
The event was attended by Sheikh Nahayan Bin Mabarak Al Nahayan, UAE Minister for Higher Education and Scientific Research and UAE Minister for Education, Humaid Al Qattami and other dignitaries.