DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A group comprised of over 130 volunteers gathered on May 31 to paint colorful murals on the walls of the Gulf Model School in Dubai to give the campus a new and improved atmosphere. Volunteers put together new school furniture, brightened the areas surrounding the school’s playground and installed new structures.
The volunteer opportunity was the second in a series of projects put on through the Volunteer Emirates Initiative, created by the philanthropic education organization Dubai Cares. The initiative aims to engage community members in education improvement.
In recent years, Dubai has increased its involvement in global poverty reduction, and Dubai Cares has played a substantial role in promoting primary education and gender equality around the world.
Dubai Cares was founded in September 2007 by Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktom. The Sheikh and Dubai Cares founder sees education as being the best long-term solution to reduce global poverty, and thus initiated the organization to increase accessibility to primary schooling for children of all religions, races and nationalities and to promote gender equality in education.
In the seven years since its inception, Dubai Cares has made an impact on the lives of more than 8 million children in 31 developing countries worldwide. Through an approach focused on monitored evaluation and student learning, Dubai Cares has built and refurbished over 1,500 classrooms, trained more than 23,000 teachers, provided more than 2.1 million books in regions’ local languages and created over 6,750 Parent- Teacher Associations.
While Dubai Cares promotes change through its own actions on various projects, it has also been successful in planting seeds of inspiration in young students. At the site of a Dubai Cares WASH in Schools program, focused on improving hygiene and sanitary conditions in schools, a 12-year-old female student took charge of promoting the change. The WASH in Schools program implemented a student government to actively involve students in sanitation changes and work toward improvement.
“I have been elected Minister of Cleanliness and my job is to keep all students in good health, see that they drink clean water, that they come to school clean and that the school latrines and courtyard are clean,” said Nematou Malle.
This method of incorporating students into improving their schools has made Dubai Cares successful in its outreach, making its lofty goals more reasonable. With a creative, entrepreneurial mindset, the organization is working toward the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of guaranteeing primary education around the world while promoting gender equality for all students.
Dubai Cares is a core member of the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon’s Technical Advisory Group for the 5-Year Global Education First Initiative. The initiative was launched in 2012 to advocate for meaningful education for children worldwide. This spring, Dubai Cares attended the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education in Washington, D.C. and New York, where United Nations aid agencies, organization leaders and academics collaborated and shared thoughts on the progress toward the U.N. Millennium Development goals.
United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown cited Dubai Cares as one of the most impactful organizations working to improve global education today.
“Dubai Cares has demonstrated extraordinary leadership in helping to get every child into school and learning,” said Brown. “They are a central part of the 500-Day Countdown until the end of 2015 as we aim to reach zero exclusion from education.”
As education evolves and reaches to countries around the globe, its scope, effect and transformative possibilities are undoubtedly deepened by the dedication of Dubai Cares.