May 17, 2017- Sharjah
A recent study by Sharjah Award for Voluntary Work has identified an increased community awareness of how important volunteering is to nation building, character development, and effective use of free time.
Titled “Community Awareness of Volunteer Work - A Field Study on the Emirate of Sharjah,” and prepared in collaboration with Sharjah University, the study revealed that 87.1% of respondents expressed their desire to participate in volunteer work, while only 12.9% expressed unwillingness to do so.
The findings were announced in a press conference held today (Wednesday) at the headquarters of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs. His Excellence Jassim Hamad al Hammadi, Secretary General of the Sharjah Award for Voluntary Work, and Iman Rashid Saif, Director of Health Education Department of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs and member of the Board of Trustees of the Award were present. The following dignitaries were also among the attendees: Fatima Al Balushi, Executive Director of the Award and member of the Board of Trustees; Prof. Abdullah Almnazl, Director of the Research Institute of the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Sharjah; and Prof. Naif Banawi and Dr. Ahmed Khatabi, the study authors from the Department of Sociology, University of Sharjah. A number of officials and media representatives were also present.
Hammadi said that the study aimed at measuring social awareness around volunteer work and its significance in the Emirate of Sharjah. The findings will serve not only as a roadmap to improve volunteer work in accordance with the national vision, but will also promote its contributions to community service and development.
Soon, al Hammadi added, the Award will implement the study recommendations and address the challenges it has identified through an integrated plan of action. This plan should found a new stage of volunteering and encourage a higher level of social awareness and participation in voluntary and humanitarian work. The findings should help the Award promote the culture of voluntary work and maximize its role and influence in Sharjah society.
Al Hammadi considered the findings reassuring as they reveal a remarkable increase among Sharjah community in participating in volunteer work, understanding its great value, and its evident contributions to nation and character building.
Commenting on the study, Iman Rashid Saif said that the custodians of the Sharjah Award for Voluntary Work were keen to carry out this study in order to direct the award programs effectively to the target groups, especially youth, who will have the greatest impact in society. It was essential to test and assess how important volunteer work is to the different social groups in order to come up with more suitable, effective, and efficient plans that speak to their core beliefs and aspirations. Likewise, the findings should help the Award design evidence-based programs that more effectively target these audiences.
On the other hand, Prof. Almnazl said that this study was the result of collaboration between the University of Sharjah and the Sharjah Award. He thanked the Award custodians for making this important project a reality.
The study has recommended that media and educational institutions draw more attention to the importance of, and promote, the culture of volunteerism by highlighting its role in social development on the individual and collective levels. The study has also advised offering symbolic incentives to volunteers, encouraged official leaderships to honor them, and called upon these leaderships to announce their contributions in the media.
The study has further recommended establishing a volunteer center to prepare training programs for volunteers so as to raise their performance and provide them with the appropriate expertise in this field. The center would have to carefully select volunteer leaders who can attract and motivate new recruits.
In its conclusion, the study has emphasized including volunteering in the curricula from kindergarten to higher education and introducing practical activities to help develop youth awareness of, and engagement with, social issues and present challenges.
Study Sample and Target Groups
The study included a random sample of 904 citizens and residents of Sharjah, as well as a number of citizens and residents of other emirates who accounted for 23.6%. Male participants represented 13.1% of the targeted sample compared to 86.9% females. All participants were from different levels of education: 9 children in the primary level, 13 participants in the elementary level, 171 high schoolers, and 711 university and postgraduate students.
The age of the participants falls under 7 categories: 10-20 years (36.4%), 20-22 years (28.5%), 22-24 years (8.1%), 24-26 years (4.3 %), 26-28 (4.4 %), 28-30 (2.8 %), and finally 30 and above (15.5%).