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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 March 2019

Madrasa platform will improve children's prospects for life

Education is key to giving a lost generation the chance to change their fate

Syrian refugee students in a Unicef school at the Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq / Reuters
Syrian refugee students in a Unicef school at the Al Zaatari refugee camp in the Jordanian city of Mafraq / Reuters

Access to education should not be a luxury but a birthright for every child. Yet last year, one in six children failed to attend school across north Africa and west Asia, with poverty, conflict and political strife the chief reasons for keeping them out of the classroom.

The damning indictment of a collective failure to educate our young is contained in a Unesco Institute for Statistics report, which warns: “Three years after the adoption of sustainable development goal 4 and the promise to provide universal primary and secondary education, there has been no progress in reducing the global number of out-of-school children”.

Since the start of the Syrian war, one in three schools have shut down and 2.8 million children have been denied access to education. Where children are being failed by the systems which are supposed to provide them with their most basic needs, it is crucial for the international community to step in and regional players to take the lead.

As educated adults, they will be in a better position to help their families and elevate their status from hardship

In this respect the Madrasa e-learning platform, an education initiative launched by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, in October last year, is fulfilling a much-needed objective. The platform, which is already being used by 1.5 million pupils and gives tuition in Arabic, has just extended its services to reach 1,000 remote villages and refugee camps in a bid to empower those Arab youth who need it most.

Schemes like Madrasa, delivered under the umbrella of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, are fundamental to bridging the education gap in the Arab world. The platform will provide 5,000 Arabic language packs as well as devices and wifi access where there is an urgent need and a shortfall of classrooms and teachers.

Education is critical to lifting children out of poverty, improving their employment prospects and combating ignorance and obscurantism. As educated adults, they will be in a better position to help their families and elevate their status from hardship. Possessing strong reading skills doubles the chances of securing a good job, according to the Unesco report. Those who are deprived of an education are more vulnerable to being exploited for child labour or being trafficked.

There is, currently, a lost generation of children living in dire circumstances across the region, whose basic rights to food security, safety and education have been stripped away for reasons beyond their control. The Madrasa platform is one significant and vital step to give them every opportunity to lift themselves out of that plight and build a better future for their countries.

Updated: February 17, 2019 02:26 PM

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