Dubai Cares helps to educate more than one million schoolchildren in India

Dubai Cares has teamed up with India-based NGO Pratham Education Foundation to provide support for students in grades one to five in 150,000 villages across six states.
Dubai Cares chief executive Tariq Al Gurg with pupils in India who are being helped in an initiative run in conjunction with an Indian NGO. Courtesy Dubai Cares
Dubai Cares chief executive Tariq Al Gurg with pupils in India who are being helped in an initiative run in conjunction with an Indian NGO. Courtesy Dubai Cares

DUBAI // A local charity is aiming to improve education for more than 1 million schoolchildren in India over the next three years.

Dubai Cares has teamed up with Indian NGO Pratham Education Foundation to provide support for pupils in Grades 1 to 5, in 150,000 villages across six states.

“Our partnership with Pratham will ensure quality education for children attending schools in India and will facilitate high levels of literacy and numeracy skills,” said Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive of Dubai Cares.

“We lay a lot of emphasis on monitoring, evaluation and learning so this programme will also showcase best practice that can be replicated across the country to enhance the educational support system on a national level.”

The charity said that across India, inadequate teacher qualifications, support and motivation, high absenteeism, flawed teaching methods and a lack of diversity in languages spoken by staff led to a lack of incentives for pupils to stay in school.

A key aim of the initiative is to reduce the number of parents who pull their children out of school to help provide for the family.

“The problem is too many kids are going to school but they are not learning,” said Mada Al Suwaidi, from Dubai Cares.

“We sat with parents who have moved their kids out of school because they feel they are not learning and don’t see the importance of school, so then they go to work to support their family. But this does not help them in the long term.”

Through financial aid to Pratham and the Read India III programme, Dubai Cares is helping to provide after-school support for underperforming pupils in Grades 3 to 5.

The youngsters receive extensive tuition in literacy and numeracy for three hours a day, over 22 days.

The tutoring is designed to add to what the children learn in class and boost those who have fallen behind to an acceptable standard.

It will also target students in Grades 1 and 2, and provide year-round classroom support so they will have the best possible chance to excel in later education.

It is hoped that once the programme ends in three years there will be adequate government support in India for it to continue.

“As with all our programmes, we ensure sustainability after we are gone,” said Ms Al Suwaidi. “Pratham will work with the government in India to ensure this continues to reach those in need.”

Dubai Cares has been working with Pratham since September last year.

The programme is part of the charity’s wider goal to support the Global Education First Initiative launched by UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon in September 2012.

Since its formation in 2007, Dubai Cares has worked in 31 developing countries to support education.

ksinclair@thenational.ae

Published: May 11, 2014 04:00 AM

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