An unprecedented surge in public expenditure on education reforms throughout the Mena region will continue in 2013, as spending takes bigger share of government budget, said the organisers of a major educational event."This year promises to be an exciting time for the education sector throughout the region as governments allocate more resources for education reforms across the board," remarked Matt Thompson, the project director of F&E Group, the organisers of the upcoming Gulf Educational Supplies and Solutions  (GESS) expo.A leading educational exhibition  in the region, GESS will run from March 5 to 7 at the Dubai World Trade Centre along with the Ministry of Education’s Global Education Forum  (GEF).The public expenditure on education in the Mena region stands at 18.6 per cent of total government spending compared to the world average of 14.2 per cent, he said, citing the latest data from World Bank. Elsewhere in the region, the Saudi government appropriated $40 billion to education and training in 2011 – investment in human capital has become a top priority for the Saudi Government, as spending on education has more than tripled since 2000.The budget includes plans to build 610 new schools in addition to the 3,200 already under construction, said the data.Meanwhile, Bahrain has increased its commitment to education through the National Project to Develop Education and Training and a focus on E-learning is a cornerstone of the Schools Improvements Project (SIP).In Kuwait, the Ministry of Education is focusing development efforts on reforming teaching methods and the national curriculum; and is likewise promoting the effective use of information and communications technology in the classroom.Massive budget increases are boosting education reforms in Oman, thanks to an $800 million budget increase for education last year, whereasQatar underscored its desire to improve quality of education when it made a huge allocation of $6.04 billion to its education budget last year.The country spends about 4.1 per cent of its GDP on education which is the highest in the region, said the expert citing data.In the UAE, one of the more significant investments made by the government went towards launching the Smart Learning Initiative – part of the UAE’s Vision 2021 – which will help shape a new learning environment in public schools in the Emirates, through the launch of ‘smart classes’ that will provide every student with an electronic tablet and access to high speed 4G networks.In support of this far-reaching initiative, the GESS and the Ministry of Education’s Global Education Forum (GEF) have adopted the theme “Smart Learning and Technological Advances in Education”.“GESS and GEF have both become an important platform for sharing global best practices in education reform as well as highlighting significant trends, specifically the technological advances, that have an impact on the development and future of teaching and learning in the region,” said UAE Minister of Education Humaid Al Qatami, who underscored the important role education plays in the continued progress of the UAE.Commenting on the forum and exhibition, Fawziya Hasan Bin Gharib, the deputy minister and secretary general of the forum said, “The event comes at a time, when the rapid changes of globalization and the demands of a knowledge economy are upon us. The Smart Learning Initiative has become essential and necessary for us to achieve nation-wide advancement on a regional and global scale.”"In anticipation of comprehensive reforms which will involved technology and smart learning, we developed a programme that will help various stakeholders to create and implement initiatives that will leverage technology to raise the quality of education in this part of the world," he noted.“GESS 2012 recorded its highest ever participation by exhibitors, with over 250 businesse s and organisations from more than 30 countries,” said Thompson."Last year, GESS and GEF attracted 6,000 key decision makers and ministerial delegations from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. This includes a cross section of teachers, heads of department and heads of school as well as procurement managers, school owners and bursars, he added.