The United Arab Emirates Board on Books for Young People (UAEBBY) and the International Board on Book for Young People (IBBY) Foundation launched the Sharjah government-supported Sharjah IBBY Fund which aims to promote a love of reading among children so that they become life-long readers, ensure that children have access to books as well as support needed training programmes for professionals in this field.
The Fund aims primarily to provide support for children whose lives have been disrupted through war, civil disorder or natural disasters in the region of Central Asia and North Africa through implementing reading-related projects.
The launch of this Fund was announced at a press conference held during the Sharjah Children’s Reading Festival 2012 at Sharjah Expo Centre in the presence of Her Excellency Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi President of the UAEBBY, Mr. Ahmad Redza Ahmad Khairuddin President of IBBY, representatives from various Arab national sections of IBBY, stakeholders in the field of culture and children’s literature as well as media representatives.
The agreement to establish the Fund was signed by the UAEBBY and the IBBY Foundation prior to the press conference. As part the agreement, the Sharjah government will contribute one million Swiss Francs (equivalent to AED4 million) towards the objectives of the Fund over a period of 10 years.
As per the agreement, an Advisory Committee will be set up to manage and supervise the fund. The Advisory Committee will be chaired by HE Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi and will include as members IBBY Foundation President and four other members to be appointed by the UAEBBY and IBBY.
Speaking on this occasion, HE Sheikha Bodour Bint Sultan Al Qasimi said: “The emirate of Sharjah has been at the forefront of many cultural and humanitarian initiatives in the region, whose effect have been felt far beyond the borders of our country thanks to the constant support of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah. As child development is a top priority for His Highness, the launch of this Fund comes to highlight the important role played by Sharjah in the global cultural and humanitarian sphere.”
HE Sheikha Bodour Al Qasimi explained that the Sharjah IBBY Fund, built on a cooperation between the IBBY and the UAEBBY, will work to support children’s intellectual development through reading, and nurture children’s reading habits, and provide relief from trauma through books and reading, particularly for children living in situations of conflict or post-conflict in various parts of this region and who are suffering from the adverse effects on these conflicts on health, welfare and educational opportunities.
“This fund will support the IBBY’s activities in Central Asia and North Africa, help to expand its current network of IBBY through enabling national sections in these countries to emerge or develop the work they do to promote children’s literature, provide them with needed books, training courses and guidance as well as supporting long term projects that would allow them to respond effectively to challenges faced by children who are victims of wars, crises, poverty and disease,” Her Excellency added.
HE Sheikha Bodour clarified that the fund will finance a new IBBY-led training programme that will offer the necessary training to the national sections in the targeted countries in addition to supporting long-term children’s reading projects in unstable and war torn countries such as the Gaza Strip, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya.
Her Excellency concluded: “Through this initiative, we seek to convey a message to the region and the world about the importance of books and literature for children and the need to give them priority above all other considerations, in order to produce literate and cultured generations who are able to proceed with lives with success and confidence.”
Ahmad Redza Ahmad Khairuddin, President of the IBBY, said: “I am thrilled to join you today on this unique children’s literature occasion and delighted to announce the Sharjah IBBY Fund that will help and support the children in the region, to develop their love of reading and provide the right books and environment to do so.”
“In times of trouble and crises that impact children’s cultural development and limit the resources available to develop their love of reading, we are confident that the Sharjah IBBY Fund will help promote children’s literature in the region and enable children to develop as life-long readers overcome the difficulties which result from the health, psychological or financial challenges they face and finally triumph over the effects of crises that had affected their countries,” he added.
Ahmad Redza Ahmad Khairuddin extended thanks to the Sharjah Government represented by His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi and to HE Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi for their generous initiative to support IBBY activities all over the world.
The IBBY Foundation is an independent organization based in Switzerland, that aims to raise funds and contributions to finance the IBBY’s activities. IBBY is an independent organization, separate from IBBYF, based in Switzerland that aims to encourage reading and bring children and books together. UAEBBY is the national section of IBBY in the UAE.
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