Dubai:– We still haven’t figured it all out in terms of education, said Hassan Damluji, Deputy Director of Global Policy and Advocacy at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, during a session titled ‘Education Accelerators: Sustainable Solutions’ at the Knowledge Summit 2019 in the Dubai World Trade Centre.
“For example, when money was donated for polio eradication (including a substantial amount from the UAE), it resulted in a 99.9% reduction of the disease,” he said. “However, injecting cash into education cannot guarantee results. Great progress was made in terms of ensuring children were attending schools, but 617 million children around the world were still unable to read a single sentence.”
“The way you develop skills is by using the knowledge that you have,” Damluji added. “Googling lets you confirm what you believe. People who know the most are the ones who do the most research. We do need to build skills, but learning facts is a crucial part of education.”
Dima Najim, Managing Director, Education for Employment – UAE (EFE-UAE), said she was a second-generation Palestinian refugee and the “only thing my grandparents were able to take from their homes was their knowledge and skills.”
She touched on the fact that the MENA region has a young population, 28% of whom are unemployed, stressing that jobs were a priority. “How does a young person think about global warming while trying to find a job?” she asked, questioning whether we were teaching children the correct skills for today.
“We must prepare the kids of today for the future,” she said, noting that UAE universities were offering employability skills, but as an extra option, adding that there should be more incentives to attend.
Ralph Tabberer, Owner and Chairman of BBD Education, spoke about the challenges of writing a curriculum and said there was no one global answer – it was always being customised. “Education is always about a conversation,” he said. “It gives us our heritage and culture. It is important to teach people about the past.”
Tabberer observed that the Middle East region’s strength was family interaction. Nonetheless, he said it was important not to be locked in the past, but to strive to do innovative things.
“I think there is a lot of fear in the educational world – fear of change – and this is an enemy of creativity,” Najim concluded. “We need to look at things outside of the box. There should be a mix between skills and knowledge – it shouldn’t be a competition.”
Organised by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF), the Summit is taking place November 19-20 at the Dubai World Trade Centre under the theme ‘Knowledge for Sustainable Development’. The event is set to showcase relevant experiences and best practices that have helped countries on their development journey in various sectors.
© Press Release 2019