Marking a series of key milestones in its 14-year-long journey within 60 developing countries, Dubai Cares, a civil society organization formally associated with the United Nations Department of Global Communications, concluded 2021 with a number of global achievements that have enhanced its position as an active advocate for global education transformation.
Despite challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, Dubai Cares, part of Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, launched new key initiatives and programs that have together contributed towards its vision of being a global leading force driving the transformation of education and learning towards a prosperous and sustainable future for all.
Commenting on Dubai Cares’ achievements in 2021, His Excellency Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chairman of Dubai Cares, said: “2021 will be remembered as a historic year not only for Dubai Cares, but also for the UAE and the education sector as a whole. Our achievements over the past year proudly represent our leadership’s enduring commitment to being a proactive global voice for education transformation. The world has long suffered the consequences of a broken and outdated education system. With all the initiatives we embarked upon last year, the UAE has strengthened its role in the global education community as a tireless champion for a better future for our children and youth, marked by the resounding success of initiatives such as the RewirEd Summit among our other key engagements. Our founder His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was the main driving force behind the innovative engagements that made 2021 the most successful year to date for Dubai Cares. His Highness’s vision resonated as an inspiration for us to push the boundaries and deliver the best solutions that can give children and youth globally the future they deserve.”
Inviting the world for a journey into the future of education, skilling and work
The Dubai Cares Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai opened its doors to the world on the 1st of October 2021 under the theme “The Future is Human”. The one-of-a-kind experience has been inviting visitors of all ages including children, youth, parents, educators, high-level delegates and people from all walks of life to go through an immersive and interactive journey into the future of education, skilling and work. The Dubai Cares pavilion engages visitors in a journey that will tell Dubai’s story of coming together and creating a movement that has, and continues, to make a difference in the world. Through its various zones, the pavilion has helped instill a deeper understanding of the importance of learning at various stages of development and allowed visitors to learn more about what the future holds for the coming generations, and the skills required for the jobs of tomorrow.
The pavilion attracted 74,488 international and local visitors in 2021, and hosted 4,641 students from more than 250 schools, who participated in the educational workshops organized by Dubai Cares. Furthermore, the pavilion welcomed 874 school visits in 2021, allowing teachers and students the opportunity to debunk myths around learning and enjoy a sneak peek into the future of education, and the skills of the future.
In addition, the pavilion hosted 47 events on various topics including education, girls empowerment, skilling, and many more. Moreover, 58 delegations including UN representatives, government officials, high-level dignitaries and private institutions were also hosted at the pavilion.
The Dubai Cares Pavilion’s sponsors include LG Electronics, Skechers, Audi, Zand and Al Gurg Consultants.
RewirEd Summit was recognized as the newest hub for high-level global education transformation discussions
Bringing together 2,810 in-person and 1,376 virtual participants from more than 90 countries, the three-day-long RewirEd Summit that took place from 12-14 December 2021 at Expo 2020 Dubai, firmly established the UAE’s place on the world map as an important global hub for high-level discussions on the future of education.
With three key themes under focus namely: Youth, Skills and the Future of Work; Innovation in Education; and Education Financing, the Summit featured 500 international speakers including 38 current and former presidents, heads-of-state and ministers to deliberate on critical but largely overlooked topics related to education that would help shape the future course of the education ecosystem.
Some high-level participants included Prince of Monaco, H.S.H. Prince Albert II; President of Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, H.E. Sahle-Work Zewde; President of Botswana, H.E. Mokgweetsi Masisi; President of Kenya, former UK Prime Minister and United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Rt. Hon. Gordon Brown; H.E. Uhuru Kenyatta; Chair of the Board of Directors of Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and former President of Tanzania, H.E. Jakaya Kikwete and Former President of Estonia, H.E. Kersti Kaljulaid; Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations; and H.E. Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General, Expo 2020 Dubai.
In addition, high-level representatives from RewirEd Summit’s strategic partners namely UNESCO, UNICEF, the Office of the UN Special Envoy for Global Education, Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the World Bank, the World Economic Forum (WEF), the World Food Programme (WFP), UNHCR, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and Education Cannot Wait (ECW) were also present at the event alongside the Education Commission and Generation Unlimited.
The Summit featured the launch of key initiatives such as the “Passport to Earning”, the “RewirEd Global Declaration on Connectivity for Education” and the “Sharjah Child Friendly School and Nurseries Toolkit” alongside high-level discussions focusing on the systemic level changes required for a complete overhaul of the education ecosystem. The Summit also witnessed the launch of UNESCO Futures of Education report, which acknowledges the power of education to bring about profound change.
The summit was also marked by the “Innovating Education in Africa Pitch” which saw five of Africa’s most promising education innovators put forward their ideas. The awardees will see their innovations implemented as pilot projects in African countries. In addition, the summit hosted the RewirEd Provocations Award Ceremony, where a select number of experiments were awarded seed funding to further develop and roll-out experiments in the education sector.
The outcomes of the RewirEd Summit will be captured in an outcomes report, led by the Education Commission, which will feed into the Transforming Education Summit, due to be convened by the UN Secretary-General, H.E. António Guterres in September 2022. The report will highlight the case for investment and a clear call to action in the countdown to 2030.
H.E. Amina Mohammed, Deputy Secretary-General, United Nations said: “I thank Dubai Cares and partners for bringing us together at this crucial time. The COVID-19 pandemic risks turning a global learning crisis into a generational catastrophe that undermines decades of progress and threatens our collective efforts to achieve the SDGs by 2030. But this crisis also presents us with an opportunity to close the equity gap, reach the most vulnerable, invest in girls’ education and end the learning poverty. I commend Dubai Cares and its partners for bringing us together to seize this opportunity. The RewirEd Summit deliberations provide an important building block for the Transforming Education Summit that we [the UN] will convene next September. Together, we can help boost public support and political commitment for education and ensure that promises translate into ambitious actions for learners everywhere.”
“The challenges posed by the COVID-19 crisis on education, learning and skilling had highlighted the need for a critical dialogue on the future of our children and youth. As the first of its kind in-person event since the start of the pandemic, the RewirEd Summit proved to be a milestone gathering that brought together some of the most influential new and traditional voices from the global education community to contribute insights, share knowledge and lend their expertise to an urgent and highly timely conversation on the way forward. We are confident that the outcomes of the summit will unlock the bright future that we have always envisioned for our children and youth,” added Dr. Al Gurg.
The RewirEd Summit was led by Dubai Cares, in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai and in close coordination with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), and delivered in partnership with global stakeholders.
Calling on the global humanitarian and development community to place human dignity at the heart of storytelling
Upholding the UAE’s vision of furthering human dignity around the world, the UAE-based global philanthropic organization launched Dignified Storytelling in May 2021 along with Expo 2020 Dubai and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC). The initiative’s aim is to create an ecosystem that fosters a shared understanding and practice of storytelling within the development and humanitarian sector that maintains and upholds the dignity of all persons, and contributes to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
As part of Dignified Storytelling, Dubai Cares hosted the Dignified Storytelling Forum on Human Rights Day (10 December 2021) at Expo 2020 Dubai, convening more than 25 speakers from various sectors to discuss the importance of dignified storytelling in policy and practice at individual and country levels under the theme, “A story can change the world.”
The Dignified Storytelling Handbook was launched during the Forum as a powerful tool with concrete examples and practical advice for telling stories grounded in the Dignified Storytelling Principles. A growing number of individuals and organizations are continuing to commit to these Principles by taking the Dignified Storytelling Pledge.
Key speakers at the Forum included Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai; Maher Nasser, Commissioner-General of the UN at Expo 2020 Dubai and the Director of Outreach Division in the UN Department of Global Communications; Rashid Al Falahi, UAE Chief Storyteller and Member of Dignified Storytelling’s Advisory Committee; Dr. Rebecca Swift, Senior Director and Global Head of Creative Insights, Getty Images; Joung-Ah Ghedini-Williams, Head of Global Communications at UNHCR; Nassib Boueri, CEO, Wunderman Thompson MENA; Elisabetta Lattanzio Illy, Journalist and Photographer (UNIDO Goodwill Ambassador); John Hecklinger, CEO, Global Fund for Children among others.
Dubai Cares and Expo 2020 Dubai also co-hosted 5 events on dignified storytelling that focused on: Working Together to Safeguard our Collective Future; Stories of Great Ambition and Hope; Local Stories that Empower, Improve and Transform; Placing Human Dignity at the Heart of Storytelling; and Teaching Information Literacy in the age of Digital Media.
Making universal access to digital connectivity a reality for all
Drawing on lessons learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, Day 3 of the RewirEd Summit saw the launch of the “RewirEd Global Declaration on Connectivity for Education” that has been developed by UNESCO in partnership with Dubai Cares to provide a framework aimed at ensuring that connected technology better supports the right to education. The Declaration reflects the inputs of a 22-person expert advisory group and a global consultation process involving governments, civil society, youth, teachers, researchers, private sectors organizations, and other stakeholder groups to put forward principles and commitments to establish directions and priorities for the digital transformation of education.
Fully aligned with both the “UN Secretary General Roadmap for Digital Cooperation” and the recently announced “Our Common Agenda” report by the UN Secretary General, the Declaration was endorsed by a number of global multi-stakeholder groups and will now be further adopted by more champions and supporters including the private and public sectors, as well as the civil society.
Expanding its portfolio with the addition of 6 new programs
The year 2021 continued to be a challenging year for all sectors including the humanitarian and development space. However, Dubai Cares continued on its mission to ensure that learning and education for children and youth is at the center of human development efforts by strengthening its educational portfolio through the addition of 6 new global education programs.
With the addition of Dubai Cares’ education investments in 2021, the UAE-based global philanthropic organization was able to reach more than 21 million individuals in 60 developing countries since its inception, bringing the total number of programs to 233.
In 2021 specifically, Dubai Cares invested a total of AED 125,912,606 (USD 34.276 million) towards global education across several key components including the launch of 6 new programs worth AED 17,916,908 (USD 4.877 million). These new programs covered a diverse range of themes including Youth Skills and the Future of Work, and School Health and Nutrition.
Another commitment in 2021 was AED 36,033,328 (USD 9.809 million) towards the organization’s global advocacy efforts. Dubai Cares continued its support to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) by pledging AED 9,183,750 (USD 2.5 million) for the ‘Case for Investment’, as part of the “Raise Your Hand” campaign, which aims to create systemic change that will help transform education in 90 lower-income countries and territories. Additionally, Dubai Cares renewed its partnership with TheirWorld by funding the “Unlocking Big Change in Education” initiative, which focuses on mobilizing funding, leveraging new partners and facilitating collective action to catalyze global progress towards SDG4, particularly for vulnerable children in emergency contexts. To ensure that global actors have access to the most relevant tools to help in the delivery of emergency education services, Dubai Cares also continued its support to update the Inter-agency Network for Education in Emergencies (INEE) Minimum Standards.
In the year 2021, Dubai Cares launched four research programs for a total commitment of AED 9,363,586 (USD 2.549 million), bringing the total number of active research programs to 23. The portfolio of research programs focuses on multiple thematics including Education Technology, Education in Emergencies, Early Childhood Development, Girls Education, Quality Basic Education and Youth Skills and the Future of Work. These programs include: “Dissemination of Evidence Based EdTech Innovations at Dubai Cares Expo 2020 Pavilion”, in addition to three programs under E-Cubed including a multi-country program, one in El Salvador, Honduras, and Colombia and the third one in Sierra Leone.
Encouraging support for education from the local community
In 2021, Dubai Cares launched an online fundraising platform on its website to encourage digital giving, by inviting residents from within the UAE and beyond to help people in need, take action in an emergency, or celebrate an occasion like a birthday or wedding by inviting friends and family to donate in support of children’s education rather than usual gifts.
The unique platform allows fundraisers to choose the cause they would like to support such as Adopt a School, Water Sanitation and Hygiene, School Feeding, Early Childhood Development, Youth Empowerment, Girls Education and Teacher Training amongst others. By registering on the platform, fundraisers have the option to keep track of the contributions directed to their campaign.
Providing safe volunteering opportunities for the local community
Despite the ongoing health crisis, volunteers remained committed to supporting Dubai Cares activities through their participation in key events including the RewirEd Talks, RewirEd Summit, Dubai Cares Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai and Volunteer Emirates (School Kits Packing and School Refurbishment). The organization also participated in two high-level events including International Association for Volunteer Effort’s (IAVE) Global Volunteering Leadership Summit held in partnership with Emirates Foundation and Emirates School Establishments’ annual work placement strategy webinar to further strengthen the UAE’s position as a civic leader.