Total literacy by 2015

THE UAE government has been making great strides in improving the education infrastructure in the country over the past few years. Underscoring its keen focus on building up a formidable education system following international standards, the UAE authorities have set a 2015 deadline for achieving 100 per cent literacy rate for nationals. By meeting the target, the UAE will, in fact, become the first Arab country to attain total literacy.

The foundation has already been laid. At present, thousands of UAE nationals are studying in 86 adult education centres across the country. A majority of the students at these centres are aged above 50 and most graduates from these institutes pursue higher education in UAE colleges and universities. Such educational institutes dedicated to adult learning show the government's commitment to achieving mass literacy that would contribute significantly to the country's remarkable economic and social development. Such educational initiatives also go a long way in helping nationals achieve self-sufficiency. A recent survey showed that the illiteracy rate is on the decline in the UAE — it fell from 22 per cent in 2000 to 9 per cent in 2005, thanks to a raft of measures taken by the UAE authorities to achieve high literacy rates.

According to a report prepared by Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation, over 100 million Arabs across an area stretching from the Mediterranean to the Arabian Gulf are not able to read and write. Last year, His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced the setting up of a $10 billion (about Dh37 billion) endowment to promote human development and improve knowledge infrastructure in the Arab world. The Ruler's gift of knowledge will certainly help to eradicate illiteracy, not only in the UAE, but also in the entire Arab world.

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