SHAPING THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION
Global Educational Supplies & Solutions (GESS) Dubai 2016 is just a few weeks away from welcoming over 10,000 participants from over 75 countries, a 40 percent increase from 2014. There’s a reason for this jump in participation –Every year, the Global Educational Forum (GEF) earns the praise of teachers and academics for delivering superb content and relevant insights from leading specialists from around the region and the world. Topics are driven by the education community and focus on key issues and learning requirements to drive Middle East education forward.
I sat down with Jonnie Wicks, Events Manager for GESS, to talk about the state of education in the Middle East and the role GESS plays to shape the future of education in the region. Here's what he had to say:
Saeed: Tell us about the background of GESS and how it helps further GEF's mission: to provide an extensive, world-class educational programme to help teachers, educators and academics of all levels develop their skills and gain insight from international experts.
Wicks: GESS began in 2007 and has always had the conference element of the event known as the GEF (Global Education Forum). It originally had a more UAE focus but as the show has developed and grown, it has become the Middle Eastern and Global event we have today. It was in 2015 that we introduced the new branding of Global Educational Supplies & Solutions (GESS) as we expanded into Mexico and Indonesia.
The GESS events provide a platform for educators from all levels to come together to talk about everything in the industry from best practice to how education is going to evolve. It also provides an opportunity for them to find the latest products and services, while also continuing training and updates on the resources they already use.
Saeed: What do you see as the biggest opportunity for educators in the Middle East?
Wicks: The Middle East has so many opportunities for educators. So much time and money is being invested in making sure that all the countries in and out of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are leading the development and evolution of education regionally and globally. There is a huge emphasis on technology and innovation in education. But with all of this being embedded across all subjects and levels, that means that there is a lot of creative resources and opportunities.
Saeed: What do you feel is the greatest challenge?
Wicks: The great challenge is keeping up to date. The education industry changes so quickly that the biggest challenge is for the educators to keep up to speed on best practices, latest resources and knowledge sharing. It is why free to attend events like GESS are so important as it gives the educators the opportunity for CPD (Continued Professional Development) while also being able to network and sharing with their peers.
Saeed: What trends in general are you seeing globally in education?
Wicks: Every region is at different stages of investment and development of their education sector. Some of the trends I have noticed have been the investment globally in coding and seeing this introduced to children from a young age. Three-D (3D) printing is also very popular but for lots of places is it still too new and expensive for it to be main stream in education. I am sure this will change and in Dubai it is something they are investing in. Other trends that will be covered at the conference and have resources on the exhibition floor at the Dubai event include.
1. S.T.E.A.M. (Science, technology, engineering, arts and math)
2. Digital content
3. Healthy living
4. Vocational training
Saeed: The 2016 GESS will be quite a bit larger than last year's event. Of what do you think this increased attendance is a reflection?
Wicks: GESS Dubai has been going from strength to strength and increased both visitor and exhibitor numbers year-over-year. We continually increase the quality of the speakers and topics covered, with over 100 speakers and 200 sessions over the three days this year.
The majority of the speakers at GEF are presenting at other conferences that teachers and educators have to pay for - but at GEF they can see them for free. There are over 550 brands and companies from over 35 countries represented on the exhibition floor. This means that educators can discover, interact and purchase the latest resource for their educational organizations. There is no other educational event in the region that has this number of products and services on show.
GESS 2016 will be held 1-3 March in the New Za’abeel Halls 4-6 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The theme for GEF 2016 is “Innovation in education through creativity and knowledge sharing”. The event is free to attend and educators can register here.
About Mohamed Saeed
Mohamed’s passion for improving students' lives is what motivates him to grow a community that’s equally passionate about making it better. Growing up in a country with a 63% literacy rate, he knows what the lack of basic tools means - even more so in a fast-paced, digital world.
He’s proudest of having built a center for capacity development for 1000+ orphans and re-structuring its management so that the orphanage is well positioned to make its mission come to life. With Mentorina, Mohamed plans and implements marketing strategies, digging deep to understand what matters most to key stakeholders and refining the brand’s message to continually elevate Mentorina's purpose.