• The Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab, the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, the American University of Beirut, and Community Jameel hosted a roundtable discussion during the RewirEd Summit at the Dubai Exhibition Centre on December 14, 2021.
  • The hour-long event, held both virtually and in-person, focused on open learning post-COVID-19, with three case studies in the Arab world.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates : The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)’s Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL), the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education (AGFE), the American University of Beirut, and Community Jameel hosted a roundtable meeting on December 14 at the Dubai Exhibition Centre as part of the RewirEd Summit, Expo 2020’s flagship education event. The RewirEd Summit is hosted by Dubai Cares and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation. The roundtable, held in-person and virtually with scholars and academics from global and regional public and private educational institutions and development organisations, marks a milestone in the ongoing dialogue on open learning in the region.

Open learning – the movement to dismantle barriers to education and research – can transform universities across the Arab world into engines of innovation and economic growth, the roundtable heard. With millions of refugees and displaced persons, in addition to the impact of the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Arab region is faced with an urgent demand for more flexible and accessible methods of education that can meet the unique learning needs of its communities.

Despite the solutions offered by introducing open learning systems – from new technologies and approaches to learning, to accreditation and access to resources – the ecosystem remains dominated by western educational institutions with little representation from the region.

George Richards, Director of Community Jameel, said: “Community Jameel is committed to advancing open learning in the Arab world, to unlock extraordinary potential by helping more people to learn in new ways and to shape their futures. The pandemic triggered a necessary shift towards open learning, accelerating developments in more flexible education, and we hope today’s meeting can carry forward this momentum and propel open learning into universities for the benefit of all.”

Dr. Sonia Ben Jaafar, Chief Executive Officer of the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, said: “The pandemic exposed the limited number of fully online degrees in the region and the fact that universities and governments were not ready to embrace online education. We are now picking up the pace, with a more open-minded education sector and increased private-public sector collaborations that better align with the needs of Arab learners and their communities. At AGFE, we believe in providing access to quality higher education at scale for Arab youth in order to elevate livelihoods. This roundtable is instrumental in shaping the future of education, which will increasingly involve open-source education, zooming in on skills-based teaching and learning adapted to education and employment trends.” 

The panel built on a pre-meeting discussion held on November 15 that included leading higher education institutions from Iraq, UAE, Lebanon and Palestine, representative of the diverse and unique needs of learning institutions in the Arab world. Delegates agreed that, on being required to adapt curricula to be more open during COVID-19, they realised the urgent need for their communities to develop better open resource materials.

The RewirEd Summit also highlighted other Community Jameel initiatives, including Transforming Refugee Education towards Excellence (TREE), a systems-wide teacher training programme in Jordan that uses compassion to help teachers overcome trauma and deliver effective teaching, which was showcased by Save the Children at a meeting with the Aga Khan Foundation and PLAN on December 13.  On the same day, the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and Pratham co-hosted a panel discussion on key learnings for scaling innovative, evidence-based education programmes, highlighting the Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL) initiative in India and across Africa.


About Community Jameel

Community Jameel is an international organisation advancing science to help communities adapt to a rapidly changing world.

Founded by Mohammed Jameel KBE – a graduate of MIT and engineer by training – Community Jameel employs a new approach to creating impact by driving new scientific and technological breakthroughs and innovations in the fields of education, health and climate.

Community Jameel supports programs, projects and ideas that unlock the power of data, research, AI and other digital tools to understand and address pressing human challenges.

The work enabled and supported by Community Jameel has led to significant new breakthroughs and achievements, including the discovery of the new antibiotic Halicin, critical modelling on the spread of COVID-19 and a Nobel-Prize-winning approach to global poverty alleviation.


About RewirEd

RewirEd, a collaboration between Dubai Cares and Expo 2020 Dubai, delivered in close coordination with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation (MoFAIC), and in partnership with global stakeholders, aims to reclaim the foundational role of education in achieving the Global Goals to ensure a future that is prosperous, sustainable, innovative and accessible to all.

The RewirEd Summit is a groundbreaking event bringing together the most influential global voices to drive a bold vision for the future of education. The in-person event will take place between 12-14 December 2021 during Expo 2020 Dubai and will serve as a unique moment to amplify the call for action and rally for the prioritization of education and learning globally. Governments, education stakeholders, civil society and the private sector, decision-makers will stand alongside practitioners, advocates and youth to jointly identify ideas and drive change for the future of education.  The Summit will focus on disruptive outcomes and bold new ideas under three key pillars: Youth, Skills and the Future of Work; Innovation in Education; and Education Financing.

About the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab

An initiative of MIT and Community Jameel, the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) works with member organisations to promote excellence and transformation in education at MIT and worldwide. The Lab engage educators, technologists, policymakers, societal leaders, employers, and employees through online and in-person collaborations, workshops, research, and information-sharing events. J-WEL member organisations work with MIT faculty and staff to address global opportunities for scalable change in education. 

About the American University of Beirut

​​Founded in 1866, the American University of Beirut bases its educational philosophy, standards, and practices on the American liberal arts model of higher education. A teaching-centered research university, AUB has around 800 instructional faculty and a student body of around 8,000 students. The University encourages freedom of thought and expression and seeks to graduate men and women committed to creative and critical thinking, life-long learning, personal integrity, civic responsibility, and leadership.

About Dubai Cares

Dubai Cares’ journey began in September 2007, when His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, announced an eight-week charity drive inviting the UAE community to help raise funds to provide quality education to 1 million underprivileged children in developing countries.

Since then, the campaign has become an organisation with a clear mission: to break the cycle of poverty by ensuring all children have access to quality education. Dubai Cares has grown into a leading global philanthropic organisation that designs and funds impactful, sustainable and scalable program in addition to influencing national education and health policies and promoting social cohesion and volunteering.

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