The Big Heart Foundation (TBHF), a UAE-based global humanitarian organization dedicated to helping people in need worldwide, is enabelling better access to early education and providing the building blocks for human development with the announcement of a primary school project designed specifically to cater to the educational needs of vulnerable communities living in and around the Matrouh Governorate in Egypt.
The 600 direct beneficiaries of the project include students, teachers and support staff, amongst others. Named El Nour Primary School, the AED 2,232,300 (USD 607,743) project seeks to boost children’s access to high-quality early childhood education and provide them a nurturing and empowering environment to learn, ultimately reducing student dropout rates usually more prevalent in marginalized communities.
The project is being implemented in partnership with Misr El Kheir Foundation (MEK), a non-profit that has been operating in Egypt since 2007. Construction work began in September 2021 and is scheduled for completion in September 2023.
In its first year, the project will directly impact 160 beneficiaries, including 120 students, 20 teachers, 10 janitors and 10 community leaders who will oversee operations. The project will also benefit 440 students in the next three years. Families of students and other community members are among the indirect beneficiaries of TBHF initiative.
Need for safe and accessible schools
The Matrouh Governorate in northwest Egypt covers 16 percent of the country’s total land area and according to 2021 statistics, has a population of 507,338. With a high illiteracy rate of 33 percent, with 65 percent amongst them being women, the governorate also suffers from the highest rate of student dropouts in the country at 7.6 percent.
A large part of the governorate is unoccupied due to the presence of landmines planted during World War II. People reside in urbanized cities and small, scattered settlements in rural or desert areas where there is inadequate access to essential services such as education.
Following an appeal from residents of the El-Zayat village in the Governorate’s capital of Marsa Matrouh to build a public school for their children, Misr El Kheir Foundation transformed an old building constructed with bricks and a wooden ceiling into a school for 170 students. The building did not adhere to health and safety standards, posing a serious threat to the lives of students. This warranted the need for a new school to ensure that children can study in a safe environment.
Fully-equipped and advanced facilities
TBHF will build, furnish and equip the new school building with 11 classrooms, a library, science lab, technology lab, and an activity room. The school, once functional, will also offer capacity-building programmes to professionally upskill and enhance the knowledge and capabilities of teachers.
The school will also encourage interaction and organize planned activities to create a nurturing and vibrant social environment that will encourage students to keep showing up, thereby reducing the risk of dropouts. Community-based monitoring of the school will further create a sense of ownership amongst community members and ensure that the project’s goals are met.
A good education is an absolute must
Commenting on the project, Mariam Al Hammadi, Director of TBHF, said it is a strategic intervention to improve vulnerable children’s access to quality of education and offer them a safe learning environment. Doing so through a proper school nurtures not one but successive generations of young human capital who will be fully equipped to realize their full potential and forge a bright future for themselves, their families and communities.
TBHF Director further noted: “TBHF is committed to supporting long-term sustainable projects that directly impact and elevate the quality of life of vulnerable communities everywhere. Inclusive access to education is a fundamental pillar in the sustainable development goals of any nation, and we aim to assist communities in their efforts to develop human capital and boost their competitiveness. For young generations to have a fair shot at building bright futures, a good education is an absolute must.”