Dubai charity launches schools projects in Kenya and Uganda

Dubai Cares focuses on bringing ICT to schools in two new projects intended to improve education in the African countries.

Humza Chaudhry donated a brick to build a wall at Dubai Mall in support of one of Dubai Cares’ many charity projects. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // Kenya and Uganda are the latest countries to benefit from Dubai Cares' What If? Ramadan campaign.

The charity announced two new programmes Sunday intended to improve education in the African countries through investment in information communication technology (ICT).

“The role of the teacher has evolved with the focus on education shifting from education for all to learning for all,” said Dubai Cares chief executive Tariq Al Gurg.

“In this climate, our two new programmes prepare and qualify teachers and students in Kenya and Uganda to meet the educational demands of the modern era by using information communication technology in education,” he said.

“ICTs such as mobile phones, desktops and tablets present important tools to strengthen teaching and learning outcomes because they offer opportunities for teacher development and a wider scale with regards to the number of beneficiaries.

“ICT is transforming the learning experience in classrooms around the globe, and by using the technology to promote the standards of education in our beneficiary countries we are swiftly closing the skill and knowledge gap between established and emerging markets.”

The two new programmes, to be implemented over three years, were expected to benefit 500 teachers, 100 teacher trainers and education administrators and more than 150,000 students, said Dubai Cares.

The agency will work with the Aga Khan Foundation (AKF) to start the teacher training and school-improvement programmes that would demonstrate the use of mobile-phone technology, desktop computers and tablets in the classroom.

The charity said the projects would focus on training teachers to use ICT in the classroom, improve teachers’ and pupils’ access to hardware and software and deliver a strategy that would provide mentoring to teachers and show them how to use ICT to monitor school progress.

Mr Al Gurg said: “In countries where educational resource constraints and scarcity of opportunities limit the professional development of teachers, ICT offers an alternative platform for training and mentoring so that children are taught with age-appropriate and contextually-relevant instructional approaches and materials.”

The two new programmes support the Global Education First Initiative launched by United Nations’ secretary general Ban Ki-moon in 2012. The initiative was aimed at reinvigorating global commitments to education. Dubai Cares attended its launch during the week of the UN General Assembly in New York, where Mr Ban chose Dubai Cares as a partner in the project.

Through the Kenyan government’s Laptop Project and the Curriculum Net Project of the National Curriculum Development Centre in Uganda, the governments in the two countries were already reaping the benefits of ICT, said Dubai Cares.

The new programmes were also expected to shape policy and programming around ICT initiatives. They would be expanded to more than 1,200 AKF-supported primary schools across the two countries.

“His Highness Sheikh Zayed believed that investing in people was the best possible way to invest in the future and this is what we are trying to accomplish at Dubai Cares,” said Mr Al Gurg.

Dubai Cares announced the new programmes as part of the successful conclusion of its What if? Ramadan campaign.

What If? urged the UAE community to take a step back and imagine the lives of children in developing countries, especially those who had forgone school to help their families to earn a living.

“The UAE community rallied around the campaign, making generous donations and spreading the word far and wide,” said Mr Al Gurg.