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At a glance: Djibouti

‘Dubai Cares’ and UNICEF aim to improve classroom conditions in Djibouti

© UNICEF video
Hadj Dideh Primary School in Djibouti is in urgent need of repair and will be the first to be rehabilitated with support from UNICEF and ‘Dubai Cares’, which will also focus on closing the gender gap.

By Guy Degen

DJIBOUTI, Djibouti, 31 July 2008 – Hadj Dideh Primary School is one of the many schools in Djibouti that are in urgent need of repair. It will also be one the first schools in the country to be rehabilitated with support from a partnership between UNICEF and Dubai Cares – a Gulf-based initiative that has raised $1 billion to help educate 1 million children in poor countries.

At Hadj Dideh Primary, the old classrooms are run-down and falling apart. The walls are cracked and there are large holes in the ceilings. The school's library is in urgent need of new books, and facilities for water and sanitation are poor.

“The toilets are broken, the plumbing doesn't work. There are faeces everywhere and the walls have been vandalised,” said Arid Mohamed Salem, 11.

A better learning environment
“We would like to have more because we have classrooms that are not really comfortable,” said school Principal Aicha Abdillahi Assoweh. “It's not an appropriate working environment for kids to learn.”

UNICEF has begun to harness nearly $2 million in Dubai Cares funding for education in Djibouti. The aim is to not only improve classroom conditions and the quality of teaching but also increase access to schools and close the gender gap.

Although nearly 130,000 children in Djibouti are old enough to go to primary school, tens of thousands are not enrolled.

“One of the key strategies to reduce poverty in the country is to educate the children,” said UNICEF Representative in Djibouti Aloys Kamuragiye. “We can succeed and get them out of poverty because they will be empowered to improve the development of their country.”

New schools for remote communities
The Dubai Cares programme is also building new schools to offer children in remote rural communities the opportunity for an education.

© UNICEF video
Goat herder Gueda Gadito’s three sons – Gadito, Barkat and Adou – have never seen a school. The Dubai Cares programme is building new schools for children like them in remote rural communities.

The settlement of Karta lies some 75 km from Djibouti's capital and is populated by the pastoral tribes of the Ado Rassu, a traditionally nomadic people. Water is scarce, and like hundreds of others, goat herder Gueda Gadito and his family are now living at Karta so that they can access the water brought in every week by truck.

Mr. Gadito’s three sons – Gadito, Barkat and Adou – have never seen a school. Apart from a mosque, Karta has no buildings or social services. Mr. Gadito hopes his sons can finally have access to education.

Toward universal primary education

“This is something really incredible,” he said. “Because even here, we have a radio and we know that people all over the world gain what they have through education. The fact that I will see a school here in my lifetime is important, and it will improve our quality of life and benefit my children.”

New schools will push Djibouti towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of providing universal primary education by 2015. The Dubai Cares project aims to boost school enrolment in Djibouti from 66 per cent to 75 per cent by the end of 2009.

Soon, for many other children like Gadito, Barkat and Adou, a new school and a quality education will help to fulfil their basic rights while providing a life-changing experience.




UNICEF correspondent Guy Degen reports on the UNICEF partnership with Dubai Cares to improve the quality of education in Djibouti.
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