UAE eyes competitive boost through advanced skills

UAE is implementing an advanced skills enhancement programme


The UAE is implementing an advanced skills enhancement programme that aims to develop well-rounded students as part of a long-term strategy to enhance the country's future competitiveness, said Jameela Al Muhairi, UAE Cabinet Member and Minister of State for Public Education at the inaugural day of Global Educational Supplies and Solutions (GESS Dubai), the MENA region's biggest education conference and exhibition.

The industry experts share the consensus that adopting right technology will help students develop skills to prepare for the future. Al Muhairi says for the UAE to succeed, students must be equipped with advanced skills and values such as compassion and tolerance.

"Trends in the uses of technology in education, artificial intelligence, large data, blockchain and other recent developments have emerged. It is essential that we address all these changes and take the initiative in studying them and how to use them to develop learning and learning processes.

"Our responsibility lies not only in educating students in modern education but also in preparing compassionate, tolerant generations who are fully aware of what is going on around them. They will be responsible individuals who will make the right choices that positively affect the society as a whole. This is the principle of lifelong learning that we want our schools to develop in our students," Al Muhairi continued.

The GESS Dubai exhibition and conference will run until February 28, 2019 at the Dubai World Trade Centre, offering education professionals a fantastic opportunity to learn from world-leading experts on the latest education trends and developments. Visitors can also explore a wide range of education-focused products and solutions showcased by over 550 local and international companies. GESS Dubai is free-to-attend for education professionals.

Schools and educational institutes in the UAE have been at the forefront in adopting technology to help students develop skills to prepare for the future. As the leading Apple Solution Expert (ASE) in the UAE, MDS CTS has been working closely with Apple to digitally transform the teaching and learning experiences for educational institutions in the country.

"We are working with many educational institutes and training centres across the UAE with five of these schools being recognised as Apple Distinguished Schools. MDS CTS has also been leading a strong Accessibility Initiative in partnership with Apple, which aims to offer students with special needs, the opportunity to become active independent learners," saidGeorge Habel, Apple Practice Manager, MDS Computers Group.

"Education is evolving at an unprecedented rate to support the new learning models of this generation. The current generation of students are driving the demand for technologies that boost engagement and the ability to work wherever they would like, and in a variety of social, collaborative environments. Technology is helping teachers to be more innovative in their teaching methods and engage students with practical ways of learning to unleash their creative potential. Learning is no longer confined only to the classrooms or just during school hours. With powerful products such as the iPad or Mac and with several tools and learning apps, students can experience customised learning experiences as well as learn from anywhere and reach out to teachers any time."

Endorsing similar positive view was Graham Brown-Martin, chief education and product officer from pi-top, said: "The UAE has always been looked at as a leader in adopting innovation and I don't think education is any different. Technology has the potential to completely change teaching and education. Students can explore different worlds or programme robots to do different things. Students are engaging in education that is interesting and this then improves their retention. Society needs to de-construct the curriculum and design learning experiences that encourage learners to make things by collaboratively solving real world challenges will be the key to thriving in this century. The current learning generation has the ability and tools to be the 'maker' generation. Learning by doing and collaborating with peers are the hallmarks of the maker generation rather than being spoken at by a lecturer in a classroom. We need to ensure that technology is being used to better educate - the UAE adopting the latest solutions and using them to benefit teaching and children can surely only be seen as a good thing."

So which technology will gain more momentum in the UAE? The UAE has one of the highest internet penetration populations in the world and the government also wants to be a technologically advanced nation. Smartphone ownership has exploded in Dubai so I think anything to do with smartphones or anything that can be linked to smartphones is going to continue to be hugely popular.

"We need to use education to better prepare our children for the jobs of the future, which aren't necessarily the ones that we have today. With education moving away from memorisation and recall to thinking skills, collaborating and creativity I think any technology that can advance this way of learning will be something the UAE will embrace. We are on the precipice of what the World Economic forum calls the Fourth Industrial Revolution; AI, automation, intelligent robots, self-driving cars and more. Students can explore different worlds or programme robots to do different things. Learning can be made fun. Students are engaging in education that is interesting and this then improves their retention - anything that contributes towards this I see growing," adds Brown-Martin.

GESS Dubai also witnessed participation from regional as well as global players. Bahrain's Education Minister Dr Majid bin Ali Al Nuaimi as well as Egypt's Minister of Education and Technical Education Tarek Shawky also attended GESS Dubai to share their vision for the future of education in their respective countries.

Meanwhile, Olli-Pekka Heinonen, director general, Finnish National Agency for Education, concurred with the UAE's vision, saying any education system needs to be renewed continuously and must include the individual learner, schools and society. He shared Finland's successful collaboratioin with start-ups and educational technology experts as a powerful platform for developing student skills that have lifelong relevance and value.

Sallyann della Casa, chief identity hacker, Gleac agrees that future success must come from developing both core education capabilities and soft skills, such as critical thinking, leadership, decision-making, collaboration and communication. "Many forward-thinking and successful companies are increasingly investing in developing soft skills within their organisations, as well as in looking for these traits among students because these are what matter in achieving success at work and in life. 

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