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Education: escape route to better life

DUBAI // Education can arm children to break through the cycle of poverty and war in the developing world, Reem Al Hashemy, Minister of State, said on Monday night.

“Children are the most innocent and vulnerable and like in any war zone they are first to suffer,” said Ms Al Hashemy, also chairwoman of Dubai Cares, which on Monday night held a Ramadan talk titled “Empowerment through Education”.

“There is no magnet that pulls a community together more than a school. People lose their sense of hope when there is no school

“At Dubai Cares we also train teachers to help provide a better education to girls because there is massive difference in a community when girls are educated.”

Drawing inspiration from the Government’s goal to make education a number one priority, the organisation hoped to take this resolve to the developing world by appealing to leaders in the private sector to forge education partnerships.

“I urge you in this month of reflection to think through your contribution and this is not always financial because direct cash transactions come and go but it is important to have a long-term commitment in the community,” Ms Al Hashemy said.

“We are interested in pushing this advocacy all the way through and not just in top management. This is not just for the private sector or the Government.

There needs to be a tireless effort to bring everyone together and have them involved and vested in communities.”

As Dubai Cares chairwoman for eight years, Ms Al Hashemy said she understood the challenge only when in the field, and realised the vast difference in the daily lives of the poor in remote villages.

Videos on Dubai Cares schools were also shown to depict how children from Tanzania to Nepal were skilled at handcrafts – but did not know how to read and write.

Chernor Bah, former chairman of the Youth Advocacy Group for the UN Global Education First Initiative, spoke about his mother’s determination that he and his sisters should study.

Mr Bah said that took them from the slums of Sierra Leone to refugee camps, and gave him a place as the youth representative on the UN global advocacy group on universal education in 2012.

“My mother said our passport out of the slum was education,” he said, recalling how she motivated them to study as guns pounded around them.

“Friends became child soldiers and I was tempted to be one as well. I saw young girls I grew up with being raped and young friends carrying guns to protect their family.

“My mother was an elementary school teacher. She said we were going to survive this and go to school. That saved me.”

Jim Ziolkowski, founder and chief executive of Buildon, shared stories of partnerships with Dubai Cares that helped to build more than 30 schools, including one in a Nepal village for Dalits, who are considered the lowest caste and not allowed to attend village schools.

“Education is a fire that nobody can put out,” Mr Ziolkowski said.

“It’s not about just building schools but about Dubai Cares being in solidarity with the poorest on the planet.”

Dubai Cares was set up in September 2007 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, to improve children’s access to primary education in developing countries.

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(via The National)