DUBAI // Teachers and pupils have joined an ambitious campaign aimed at delivering five million books to children in refugee camps and schools around the world.
The Reading Nation campaign announced on Sunday by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, raised Dh10 million on its first day and has received the backing of schools across the country.
Sharon Storrie, a teacher at Dubai British School, said they would be working with Dubai Cares to collect books.
“Reading is an important part of life, whether it be reading signs for directions, completing official forms, or enhancing your knowledge of a particular subject," she said. “Reading also develops creativity and enables children to experience a world outside of their own."
Although children in refugee camps are provided with food, water, shelter and clothing it is vital they are given an education to give them a chance for a brighter future, Ms Storrie said.
“Learning to read and continuing this practice will enable them to improve their language and vocabulary as well as prepare them for the future, giving them a better chance; whether it be communicating with others or furthering their education," she said.
Emma Kaye, a librarian at Uptown School, said they would also be involved.
“Reading opens children up to experiences beyond their personal situation," she said.
“In our position of privilege it is important that we help where we can and this Reading Nation campaign provides us with the opportunity to help in a way that can have an immediate impact on the lives of refugee children."
Dr Jane Martin, a Dubai school librarian, praised Sheikh Mohammed’s initiative.
“It is hoped that books donated are of good quality, age and culturally appropriate so that reading is encouraged," she said.
“But I’m sure that in this case there are the resources available to ensure that excellent selections are made."
Michelle Deegan, librarian at Latifa School for Girls in Dubai, said the campaign highlighted the UAE’s determination to promote reading.
“As long as I have worked at Latifa School we have had a policy of donating surplus books to charitable institutions," she said.
“Access to reading resources is the best way to develop literacy and establishing libraries to furnish that access to all comers."
Sanam Bozorgi, a librarian at Dubai British School Jumeirah Park said reading can help to improve a child’s vocabulary, improve their writing, develop analytical thinking and social skills.
“The benefits of reading to children are proven by hundreds of studies," she said. “Although most of the positive effects become evident as the child reaches toddler and preschool ages, many of the important influences are forged during infancy.
“According to Unicef, education can provide stability, normalcy and hope in a child’s day-to-day life during a crisis situation. Only education can save them, give them skills and hope to build a better life for themselves and their families when they grow up."
UAE schools will host an open week during which books can be donated in cooperation with the Ministry of Education.
The campaign seeks to establish 2,000 school libraries around the world and support international education programmes implemented by UAE humanitarian organisations.
Two million pupils will be directly provided with books.
More than 500 schools across the country get donation boxes from Dubai Cares to donate books and pupils can write dedications to those who will benefit.
Institutions can donate between Dh500,000 and Dh10 million to partner banks. For every Dh10 donation, a book is given to the cause.
Donation platforms are located in various malls across the country. The campaign will continue until the 19th day of Ramadan, which coincides with Zayed Humanitarian Day.
For more details visit readingnation.ae or call 044504550.
As part of the campaign LuLu Group announced that is was donating Dh2 million, which will be used to print and distribute 200,000 books in refugee camps and schools around the world.
Source:The National, 9 June 2016