Making Doha a child-friendly city
08 Feb 2016 - 16:16
Childhood Cultural Center aims to develop children’s culture, ensure early childhood education, combat bad habits and promote good behaviour and skills through entertainment programmes and games.
By Mohammed Osman
How child-friendly is Doha city when assessed against international standards? This is the topic of a survey to be conducted this year by the Childhood Cultural Center (CCC), a member of Qatar Foundation (QF).
The study seeks to assess and document the facilities currently available for children in Doha and whether the city has met world standards to become a real child-friendly city and if not what is missing and what should be done to achieve that objective.
The study will be conducted in collaboration with other bodies concerned in the country and organisations including the Unesco, Hanan Ahmed Al Hail, Executive Director of CCC, told The Peninsula, while highlighting the major activities planned by the centre this year.
There is a plan to form an association to bring together young people who are actively involved in different programmes of the centre and help them continue to play their outstanding roles, said Al Hail.
Asked about major challenges facing the centre, she pointed out that there is a reluctance from some children and parents to participate in its activities due to lack of awareness. They find excuses like transportation problems.
“We do our best to accommodate children of different age groups and academic levels by adopting innovative and creative methods to make our activities and programmes more attractive,” said Al Hail.
A major challenge is a shortage of Qatari specialists in different areas of childhood and this is making the centre dependant on cooperation with other institutions and foreign experts and making its task tougher.
Many children in Qatar use the excuse of not having enough time, not finding books matching their interests and not having access to enough materials which seem to be driving them away from the activities.
“Our target groups include infants to 18 years old and we try our best to respond to the needs and interests of this wide range of categories through diverse programmes and activities matching each category,” said Al Hail.
With this objective, the centre is conducting a number of programmes such as the “promising speaker,” “future media personalities”, “parents’ partnership,” “I dream of my profession,” “promising poet,” “promising researcher”, and “future leaders”.
Each of these programmes has a group of young people involved in. In addition to this there are awareness campaigns named as “I’m reading,” “live it for healthy nutrition”. The centre also runs a mobile library, book club, “my library” in Villaggio mall and a “national exhibition for a generations’ dream.” The centre has no special programmes for disabled children.
“We consider them part of the target groups and we try to involve them in our activities and programmes,” said Al Hail.
The centre has daily activities and not less than three programmes every week. For instance the activities directed to students in middle and secondary school levels focus on exploring talents and creativity help them develop and refine such skills.
“Our aim is to develop the child’s culture, ensure early childhood education, combat bad habits and promote good behaviour and skills through entertainment programmes and games specially designated for this purpose,” said Al hail.
The centre has developed a number of programmes some of them targeting children at early ages at pre-primary and primary school levels and some others for middle and secondary schools students.
The centre also tries to reach children through their parents, teachers and nannies by organising special events in which specialists and experts are hosted in workshops and to present lectures focusing on child-parent relations at different ages.
The centre also participates in different national and religious events such as the National Day, Sport Day, Emiri Cup, Doha international book fair, juvenile exhibition, traffic week and activities organised by Aspire Zone, besides some international events such as international children’s day, GCC children’s’ day, Arab children’s day, and spring camps.
The CCC constantly aims to showcase the heritage and traditions of the country through organising several events that teach children about Qatar’s tradition and heritage such as the Garangao festival, that familiarised children with the customs and traditions related to the holy month of Ramadan.
There is a schedule of events on the website of the centre where schools and educational institutions need to register for taking part in the desired programmes and activities. The events take place in different places such Katara, schools, commercial complexes, public parks, and public gathering areas on some special occasions.
The mobile library “Al Wan” operates with a large bus full of books moving around town. This mobile bookstore is the CCC initiative to encourage the young people in Qatar to read more.
CCC is keen to expand its partnership and cooperation with centres and institutions to achieve the vision and provide quality service to the target groups. In order to realise that and diversify its programmes and activities, the centre signed an agreement with QFA to prepare a strategic plan for the development of children through football.
The centere has established partnership and joint programmes with Al Jazeera for Children, Arab Council for Childhood and Development, Doha Centre for Media Freedom and Be-Free Association in Bahrain with which the CCC published seven booklets and organised many workshops for parents and childern Al Hail pointed out.
Through the partnership and cooperation programmes established by the centre, some children managed to participate in regional and international events and conferences held in Sweden, Morocco, Jordan and Lebanon, said Al Hail.
The centre works closely with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education, Ministry of Culture and Sports, members of the Central Municipal Council (CMC) and other institutions and reach children and youngsters through schools, youth clubs and diverse activities taking place in commercial centres, public parks and Cultural Village Katara.
The centre comprising five departments was established in 2002 at the initiative of H H Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, Chairperson of Qatar Foundation, to contribute to the development of children and young people and preserve the country’s culture, heritage and identity.
Asked about the achievements of the centre over 10 years, Al Hail said that it is not easy to track and assess the outcome because “the centre’s role complement the role of other partners and it is difficult to draw lines between the roles played by the family, schools, television channels and the society as a whole.”
Some of the activities and programmes need continuation. However, many children drop half way. Those who pursue their projects specially the researchers are recognised by publishing their papers in Darbeel, the centre’s research magazine.
The centre has several publications devoted to children, families, teachers, the society, civil society organisations and influential figures in different areas of specialisations.
They include “Al Waedoun” (promising) which covers different events, “oreedduho Muthaqafan” (I want him educated) and Tajori magazine for children.