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Qudwa’s Ideas_Lab reveals strategic application of technology as key to the transformation of the education sector

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, Qudwa 2019 commenced its third edition with the Qudwa Ideas_Lab, an invitation-only working session held in recognition of World Teachers’ Day to reflect on the changing role of teachers and shape strategies to teach for global competence. The newly-launched initiative revealed that strategic application of technology will pave the way for the transformation of the UAE education sector. Held at Manarat Al Saadiyat, Abu Dhabi, the event is organized by the Education Affairs Office of the Crown Prince Court of Abu Dhabi. 

The Qudwa Ideas_Lab immersed around 100 teachers and education leaders in a collaborative experience to explore the impact of global competence on teaching methodologies. The Lab also emphasized the importance of training teachers to ensure their students are ready for a challenging and rapidly changing world.

Lab attendees included key government ministers H.E. Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, H.E. Dr. Ahmad Bin Abdullah Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, Cabinet Member and Minister of State for Higher Education, H.E. Dr. Abdulla Al Karam, Chairman and Director General of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority, H.E. Dr. Saeed Musabah Al Kaabi, Chairman of the Sharjah Education Council, and H.E. Ali bin Abdul Khaliq Al-Qarni, Director General of the Arab Bureau of Education for the Gulf States, alongside education experts, teachers and Qudwa partners from Teach For All, the American University in Dubai, Educational Testing Service (ETS), OECD and more.

“Our priority is developing teachers’ skills, vision, and educational practices, and providing them with the necessary tools to positively impact the education process and achieve global competence. By adopting a unified educational system, the UAE has established a distinguished education model that stimulates advanced teaching methodologies, and advances the ambition and future aspirations of the country and its quest towards globalism,” said H.E. Hussein Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, in his keynote speech. “The current education model, the Emirati School model, focuses on early childhood through educational games that simplify information delivery and expand children’s ability  to consume and process information, as well as adopts global strategies and standards by involving parents in the education system,” added His Excellency.

 “It is crucial that Emirati schools provide a stimulating learning environment to achieve sustainable education practices and establish a secure foundation for all students, in addition to officially begin teaching Chinese as a third language alongside Arabic and English. The network of ‘Positive Schools’ recently introduced by the UAE is one of the outstanding programs enabling teachers to promote tolerance, and provide Emirati school students the ability adapt to different cultures and circumstances, to be conscientious, open and accepting of different perspectives, and to seek mutual understanding across the diversity of human experience,” His Excellency concluded.

Also present at the occasion, H.E. Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Higher Education & Advanced Skills added in his closing remarks: “Traditional teaching methods relied on teachers divulging information to their students; however, this never guaranteed that students truly processed the information, but rather just blankly memorized. For millennials especially, education needs to be delivered as relevant messages, but also customized to their interests.”

“As technology continues along with its exponential and immeasurable growth, we can expect that even the more advanced teaching positions will see some degree of automation in the future. For example, technology to automate grading of multiple-choice assignments has saved teachers hours upon hours, liberating them from such slow and repetitive activities to make room for more meaningful, personalized interactions with their students,” added His Excellency.

“It is without a doubt that automation is impacting the education world; however, the growing global need for instilling soft skills such as interpersonal skills, communication, and leadership skills in our students to equip them for the future continue to prove that teachers will, more than ever, remain relevant to our society and the educational journey,” he concluded.

“We are proud to be here on an occasion as prestigious as World Teachers’ Day to appreciate the world’s 90 million teachers, of which 70,000 teachers of different backgrounds and cultures teach in the UAE,” commented H.E. Dr. Abdullah Al Karam, Chairman of the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.

“We are in the age of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and AI has already changed many sectors including manufacturing, banking, transportation, and more. Soon, it will change education and the structure of schooling; however, this is something to welcome, not fear,” he added. “It is without a doubt that technology and AI will transform education and teaching; however, the one thing that AI will never be able to mimic is the heart of a teacher.  This heart ultimately keeps teachers as a core pillar of our modern society and essential to the way we are working towards our vision as a country, and shaping our future.”

H.E. Saeed Musabah Al Kaabi, Chairman of the Sharjah Education Council, said, “The future is moving towards a technological revolution, completely reversing what has already been established as an education system. In order to maintain a balance, it is crucial to define the needs of both teachers and students; the first thing teachers need is values, as with values, teachers can plant the seed of knowledge and grow talent in their students.”

The outcomes of the Qudwa Ideas_Lab will be captured in a “Blueprint” representing the views of teachers and experts, which will act as a roadmap to help teachers in the UAE grow professionally, work collaboratively, and prepare their students for a dynamic and interconnected future.

Under the theme “Teaching for Global Competence”, Qudwa is a platform for teachers that aims to elevate the teaching profession in the UAE and highlight the latest innovations in the education sector. The Forum aims to form a network of education leaders that places the ongoing advancements of the profession at the heart of the education conversation.

The 2019 Forum seeks to position the UAE as a global leader in the education sector with a future-ready education system by developing the ability of students to thrive in a rapidly changing global environment. This increasingly depends on the capacity of teachers to impart a new set of skills to foster global competencies, in addition to impacting regulation and policy.

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