DUBAI // A charity is donating Dh8.5million to help thousands of needy families fund their children's education.
Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment has allocated the money for educational projects across the country this academic year, at the request of its patron, the Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
The funds will go towards the foundation's annual programme "With Education We Progress". About Dh7.75m will go towards three annual projects aimed at needy families while the rest will be distributed to public schools where it will also be used to help the disadvantaged.
One of the projects helps expatriate families to pay for their children's school fees. About 500 families are expected to benefit this year, with the charity allocating Dh3m to pay the second term fees for up to four children in each family.
"The fact that the majority of expatriates families have to enrol their children in private schools with fees of an average of Dh15,000 a year has made the fees a heavy burden for many expatriates families, especially those with several children," said Bakhita Al Katabi, head of the relief section at the charity.
"Our project works to help these families in their quest for education and give an opportunity for parents to spend more money on their children's other needs."
Parents wishing to register for the scheme need to visit the foundation to register. A social worker will then interview them to determine their eligibility. The fund will distribute the aid in November and December.
Mrs Al Katabi said such contributions had played a life-changing role for many families. She recalled helping a family with five children that had planned to prioritise the school fees over heart surgery for the mother.
"After our contribution the father was able to pay for his wife's surgery with the money he had set aside for the fees. So we were able to save lives," said Mrs Al Katabi.
In the second project the charity will distribute Dh1.75m worth of vouchers to Emirati and expatriate families to buy school supplies. The charity expects to hand out almost 6,000 vouchers, each of which will be worth Dh300, though each family will be allowed a maximum of three vouchers.
Vouchers will be accepted at the various branches of Dubai Library, a stationary shop chain.
"This is a very important project as it makes children start the year in good spirits and motivates them by providing things that are not only necessary but also desirable for them," said Mrs Al Katabi.
"The fact that they can choose what items they want makes them happy and that is an important factor for their achievement in school," she added.
The charity's third project donates laptop computers to Emirati students at the Higher Colleges of Technology and Zayed University who are otherwise unable to afford them.
This year Dh3m has been allocated to the project, which will enable it to distribute laptops to about 700 students.
"There are low-income families who have three students who are in need of a laptop at the same time. How will the parent pay for them with a small salary?" asked Mrs Al Katabi.
"Our contributions in this regard have helped many students, especially females, continue their higher education. Without these contributions they might have stayed at home."