Irish poet William Butler Yeats once said that education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
These words rang true this past week during the GESS 2016 Dubai conference where more than 10,000 people from 75 countries came together to stoke the flames of better education in the Middle East.
In his keynote speech, His Excellency Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi, UAE Minister of Education, said the UAE has set into motion a strategic plan until 2021 that will focus on enhancing its smart learning and smart services initiatives, utilizing the most recent advances in technology, and partnering with various stakeholders to improve and develop education as well achieve high-quality learning to meet its long term development goals.
With respect to education-related indicators, the UAE has excelled in several areas, including topping the list of countries preferred by international students seeking higher education. The Emirates ranked first in gender equality in secondary education, according to the Human Capital Report 2015 by the World Economic Forum. It also placed third in education competitiveness and eight in the science-in-school indicator by the Global Innovation Index last year. Equally important, it is among the top 21 nations in terms of research and development collaboration between universities and industries.
With these top priorities in mind, we had five top takeaways from GESS 2016 after talking to many of the people who attended:
1- Education will change dramatically in the next five years. The regions has made great advances in education and we fully support His Excellency’s focus on bringing more technology to the classroom. This will help us strengthen learning in an ever-changing world and prepare students for careers and technology that don’t yet exist.
2- Education is for life. The early years are the most important but no one should feel that once they leave school that the education is over. This point was driven home by the diversity of attendees with whom we spoke and the varied range of questions they had about how to support students of every age for a better life.
3- Broader perspectives are critical for learning. GESS 2016 wasn’t just about selling blazer, toys or desks, although each of those have important roles in the classroom. We found the conference a wonderful opportunity to exchanging ideas with people from around the world about what matters most to them, why they want to change education and how to create a better future.
4- Collaborative partnerships lift up education. One of the most common conversations we had with people was in the response to the question, “How can we work together?” The GESS community is keen on making and maintaining business contacts with key influencers in order to move education everywhere forward.
5- Seeing is believing. With smart learning and smart services initiatives a foundation to His Excellency’s platform, nothing can replace the hands-on experience of interacting with technology. We saw this not only in our own booth, but throughout the exhibition hall as people experimented with robots, legos, software and other exhibits. Introducing decision-makers in education to the latest innovations in education-related products and solutions gives them the opportunity to explore what’s available in the market and useful for their classrooms. Having a venue for decision makers to showcase and try out these advances helps everyone make change happen faster.
The Mentorina team was thrilled to be named a finalist in the GESS Awards for the Product Innovation category. We congratulate all of the finalists and winners in each of their categories as the program highlights and rewards the quality and diversity of educational products, resources, services and people, as well as the best educational establishments and the most dedicated members of the teaching profession.
Visit GESS 2016 Dubai for more interviews and insights from the week’s events.
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.