World Leaders in DubaiLeaders from the private and public sectors came together in Dubai on March 12-13 to discuss tactics for improving global education in the fourth annual Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF).

During the two-day event, speakers lectured on a variety of topics pertinent to the advancement of global education. These included such timely topics as the need for education to combat the spread of terrorism, and the lack of access to education for refugees, such as the three million children currently out of school due to war in Syria.

Workshops and debates were also held to challenge attendees to consider the practicality of solutions.

The Varkey Foundation, a nonprofit organization with the goal of improving education for underprivileged children, convened educators, academics, nonprofit leaders and government leaders, including 22 education ministers.

The aim of the Varkey Foundation is involving everyone in producing real-world global education solutions.

“The main topic will be rethinking collective responsibility for public education. This is in the context that there are still half a billion children in failing schools all around the world,” Varkey CEO Vikas Pota told Education Journal prior to the summit.

Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation, did an interview with the online magazine Teach UAE. In that article he states, “it is not only important to find more money to overcome the crisis, but my belief is that by pooling our creativity, generosity, and persistence, we can collectively overcome this education crisis. If we work together – government, business and civil society – we have it in our power to finally give every child their birthright: a good education.”

Notable among the speakers at this year’s summit were: Tariq Al Gurg, CEO, Dubai Cares, UAE, as well as Sir Martin Sorrel, Group Chief Executive of WPP and Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO. According to the UNESCO website, Bokova spoke to the need for stronger education systems and the importance of strong teachers.

Bokova also spoke of the importance of education in combating radicalism. “Education is a vital tool also in the fight against violent extremism, to counter radicalisation‎.”

The GESF summit also featured a Global Teacher Prize. The winner was picked from a list of 50 which were drawn from thousands of nominations from countries around the world. According to the Education Journal, the idea behind this was to nominate an exceptional teacher in order to highlight the importance of educators.

The winner of the prize at this year’s summit was Hanan Al-Hroub, a female Palestinian teacher. The prize includes an award of $1 million.

The MENA Herald reported that The Varkey Foundation initiated three new alliances for promoting global education which met for the first time at the GESF 2016 Summit: the Alliance on Girls’ Education, the Alliance on Teachers and the Alliance on Innovation. Alliance partners include government leaders and representatives from UNESCO, Harvard University and Amazon.

They will produce their findings and recommendations at next year’s summit.

Katherine Hamblen

Sources: Financial Express, TeachUAE, Education Journal, UNESCO, MENA Herald, The Herald
Photo: Education Journal Me