Dr. Tariq Al Gurg is the Chief executive officer of Dubai Cares.
1. Since its inception in 2007, Dubai Cares has taken risks by investing in innovative platforms, tools and approaches to education, such as Pedago, Learning Passport Schools 2030 or through the work underway with RewirED. What role does Dubai Cares, and foundations in general, play in achieving SDG 4 ?
Being located in a region where giving is built into our tradition, our way of life and religion, Dubai Cares has been graciously supported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) community and its leadership. We have, as a result, been entrusted with the responsibility set by a demanding, business-savvy donor-base, which has instilled in us a sense of duty to ensure every decision we make is driven by the impact it will deliver.
Dubai Cares has made significant commitments to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and to promote lifelong learning by 2030. We do this by supporting early stage pilot programs exploring new modalities of implementation and co-funding scale-ups of nation-wide programs in order to unlock additional more risk-averse funding.
This includes supporting programs across the wider education spectrum, ranging from early childhood development, access to quality primary and secondary education, technical and vocational education and training for youth as well as tertiary education. In addition, Dubai Cares has a particular focus on girls’ education and education in emergencies and protracted crises.
I believe that innovation is key to driving change in any sector, and it is just one particular area that foundations are particularly well-placed to support. At Dubai Cares, we continuously seek out innovative ways to build and deliver programming. We are implementing game-changing thinking where we are partnering with non-traditional implementers such as Pedago through Miya Miya – an application that focuses on the reintegration of out-of-school children into secondary education, which is key to gaining access to basic job opportunities and opening pathways to higher education.
We have also partnered with futures lab, Radicle, to develop and co-design provocations and a system map of global education with key stakeholders. The aim is to collectively identify and understand the variety of perspectives and systemic shifts needed to meaningfully co-create a better and more inclusive way forward for education and learning.
2. Since the establishment of the United Arab Emirates almost 50 years ago, the country has made strides in educational achievement for girls and boys. How has education, especially for girls, contributed to the success of the UAE?
The success of the UAE would not have been possible without education being heavily invested in by this young nation, which continues to lend as much support to it now as it did during its unification in 1971. Four years later, the rate of adult literacy was only 54% among men and 31% among women. Today, literacy rates for both genders are close to 95%.
On a yearly basis, the UAE government allocates a significant share of its federal budget for the development of the education system, in order to provide quality education services and enhance the move towards a more knowledge-based economy.
The UAE’s commitment to education has helped the nation diversify its economy and prepare a new generation of young people to compete in the global marketplace. In 2019, young people surveyed throughout the Arab world identified the UAE as the top country to live in and to emulate for the 8th year running, reflecting the opportunities available to youth entering the workforce.
The focus on girls’ education is a major success story of the UAE. Not only do women represent more than one third of the UAE’s cabinet, but they also occupy a number of leadership positions ranging from political to CEOs of major companies. In addition, the representation of women in the workforce is nearly 46.6%. Women make up 66% of the public sector workers, with 30% in leadership roles and 15% in technical and academic roles. About 75% of positions in education and health sectors are occupied by women. Moreover, 23,000 Emirati businesswomen run projects worth over AED 50 billion, and occupy 15% of the positions in the boards of chambers of commerce and industry nationwide.