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KT edit: A vision for the region

Filed on November 12, 2020

Sheikh Mohammed’s latest initiative to educate one million children in the next five years is a seminal step in this journey

It’s easy to sway minds that are not exposed to the world of possibilities that education can offer. Illiteracy breeds ignorance; ignorance provides a fertile ground for poverty and extremism to thrive. Conflicts and violence confine people in a vicious circle. Low levels of literacy have been the biggest blight on the Arab world, marring progress of people and region on the whole. A study by Arab Thought Foundation in 2011 was an eye opener when it compared average reading time of children in the Arab world and the West. While an Arab child spent six minutes a year, a child in the West typically spent 12,000 minutes. The difference is overwhelmingly high and points to the lack of access to books and formal institutions of education in the region. Arab Reading Challenge, launched in 2015 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, was a call to sensitise the region’s children towards the wealth of knowledge that lies in the company of books. It has been a success, encouraging children from far and distant lands to read more. Yet, it is a long road ahead before the literacy rates in the region are brought at par with the world average.

Sheikh Mohammed’s latest initiative to educate one million children in the next five years is a seminal step in this journey. There would be significant challenges in terms of approvals of curriculum, liasing with different countries, providing logistics, setting up the ecosystem that will offer education, and more. However, this noble project has the potential to change lives, and with it the fortunes of the region. Sheikh Mohammed’s vision has helped transform Dubai and the UAE. It is exciting to see how it shapes the region.





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