UAE children read over million books in charity campaign

November 20th, 2008 - 2:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Dubai, Nov 20 (IANS) The count is out. And a total of 1,323,218 books were read by children between the ages of three and 14 in the course of a two-week campaign in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) aimed at helping the education of children in developing nations.What is that again, you would say.

Well, the idea is simple, novel, challenging, innovative and exemplary.

Dubai Cares, a charitable establishment of the Dubai government established last year by Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum to help in the education of children in developing nations had put a unique challenge to schoolchildren here: read a million books in two weeks and for each book read, a book will be donated to children in need in developing nations.

The challenge ended Nov 16 and the figures were released late Wednesday.

A total of 141,415 students from 159 schools in Al Ain in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Sharjah, apart from Dubai, read up 1,323,218 books, an equivalent number of which will be distributed to children in developing nations.

According to the UAE’s Ministry of Social Affairs, students with special needs also proactively got involved in this unique initiative.

Dubai Cares was launched Sep 19 last year with the aim of improving children’s access to primary education in developing countries - a part of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

This year, the unique campaign of inculcating the habit of book reading among schoolchildren was launched.

“This programme has not only allowed children to enhance their reading skills but it has clearly demonstrated to the world the philanthropic spirit of children in the United Arab Emirates,” Reem Al Hashimy, chairperson of Dubai Cares board of directors, said Wednesday while announcing the figures at a function here.

She also said, in response to the impressive achievement of the students, Dubai Cares would create over 1,000 libraries in needy communities, adding to Dubai Cares’ commitment to improving literacy.

“By creating libraries, Dubai Cares is providing sustainable community centres of learning which effectively extend the reach of each book, maximising the impact for students and their communities for generations,” she stated.

The Dubai Cares charity is also offering an opportunity for residents here to build on the momentum created by the students’ contribution to strengthening literacy around the world by sponsoring a book for 10 dirhams ($2.72) each.

According to Chris Tight, campaign director of Dubai Cares, the charity is working with the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Room to Read as well as other Arab NGOs to help in the educational needs of children in developing nations.

“We are still deciding on the countries we will be supporting. However, wherever we build the libraries, we will be incorporating local language books that are specifically created and designed for the community,” he told reporters on the sidelines of Wednesday’s function.

According to a United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) report, there are still 120 million children globally, most of them girls, who lack access to education.

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