Money from the UAE will go towards education in Afghanistan as the result of an agreement signed this week between the Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan Foundation and the United Nations Children's Fund. The state news agency, WAM, reported that cash from the foundation would be used for "the procurement and distribution of teaching and learning materials" for more than 2.6 million children and 114,000 primary teachers.
It was also intended that it should contribute to a 20 per cent increase in the enrolment of Afghan girls at primary school over the next five years and help ensure regular attendance by children at schools. The agreement was signed by Mohammed Haji al Khoori, the executive director of the foundation, and Dr Ayman Abu Laban, the Unicef representative in the Gulf Area. Mr al Khoori said it was one of many partnerships the foundation was seeking to build with governmental and private institutions.
The news follows the more general deal reported yesterday, between the foundation and Virgin Unite, the charitable arm of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin empire. That arrangement is for co-operation on education and health initiatives worldwide. Earlier in the week, the UAE body and the British-based aid organisation Oxfam agreed to work together to provide relief support to Afghanistan. According to WAM, statistics show that more than two million Afghan children do not attend primary school and literacy levels are declining. The country had an "urgent need" for 100,000 qualified primary school teachers, it said, especially women, who represented only 28 per cent of the total number of teachers.
Commending the "humanitarian efforts" of the UAE and especially the Khalifa Foundation, Dr Abu Laban said Unicef would now be able to provide "much needed support to promote education for all children in Afghanistan". Mr al Khoori added: "We are certain that through this agreement we will help lessen the suffering of children in Afghanistan, knowing that a significant number of children do not go to school."
* WAM / SA