HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum during his visit.The briefing was organized for HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who was visiting the African nation as part of his role with ‘Dubai Cares’, the charity drive to help educate one million children in developing countries.

HH Sheikh Ahmed toured the country, visiting schools and meeting with government officials, to personally understand the children’s struggle to obtain basic education.

In his meetings with officials, HH heard about the current situation and strides taken by the government to improve the delivery of quality education in the country. Since 2000, for instance, the government has increased national spending from 16% to 30% to guarantee the provision of education for children aged 6 to 16 years old.

However, serious challenges remain, hindering further progress – the education system does not have enough classrooms to accommodate an increase in enrolment, which is a priority considering 34% of children of school age do not have access to primary education.

HH Sheikh Ahmed said: ‘It is clear from our meetings that the Government of Djibouti has made significant progress in its delivery of education to its country’s children. However, challenges remain on the path of development, but I am confident that in partnership with ‘Dubai Cares’, the children of Djibouti will be able to reap the benefits of its government’s dedication to guarantee basic education.’

HH Sheikh Ahmed and his delegation visited Hadj Dideh and Quartier 7 Bis primary schools, where students welcomed him with song and dance and teachers gave him a tour of the facilities. Built and operational since 1976, the schools displayed an obvious need for new equipment, rehabilitation and basic requirements such as running water and sanitation facilities.

During his tour, Sheikh Ahmed said: ‘Getting the children into the classroom is an important first step to promoting education and to ensuring children acquire the skills that will secure their participation in their country’s development and growth. However, it is evident that more needs to be done, specifically in terms of strengthening institutional and management capacity.’

Before boarding his return flight, HH said: ‘I am pleased with the visit and hope to return to Djibouti, as well as other countries in need of our support to providing their children with primary education. ‘Dubai Cares’ is an ongoing commitment and our friends can expect our return.’

The campaign was launched 19 September 2007 by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and has tasked his children with the responsibility to drive the campaign at home and represent Dubai in recipient countries.

Dubai Cares is the latest in a line of international initiatives that express Dubai’s willingness to play an effective role in securing a better tomorrow for future generations. The campaign is Dubai’s contribution to a global drive to help countries achieve their U.N. Millennium Development Goals of providing primary education to every child by 2015.