Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC) announced it will host the first Transforming Education Summit (TES) from May 7th to 9th 2012. Under the patronage of His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Chairman of ADEC, the conference will attract prominent government, business, academic, and civil society leaders from around the world, and offer them a platform to share lessons learned on how to deliver relevant education to young people more effectively in a rapidly changing global society.
The summit, to be held at the Emirates Palace, will feature an outstanding line-up of keynote speakers, including former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Former President of Finland Tarja Halonen, Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Education Muhyiddin Yassin, Former Irish Minister of Education Mary Hanafin, CEO of Mubadala Khaldoon Khalifa Al Mubarak, and leading scholar of educational change Andy Hargreaves. The event will be moderated by Tim Sebastian, the renowned facilitator of the Doha Debates and former BBC reporter, and will count with more than 30 other speakers from around the world, including ministers and former ministers, CEOs, leading academics and civil society leaders.
Delegates will cover topics such as defining society’s needs for education, the leader’s role in managing the transformation journey, efficiency and funding of education, and engaging key stakeholders (government entities, educators, students, parents, and the private and philanthropy sectors).
TES uniquely focuses more on the ‘how’ than on the ‘what’ of education reform, since research shows that most transformation efforts fail due to challenges in the process of change itself.
Sessions will encourage discussions and knowledge sharing, and will rely on strong interactive elements, combining keynote speeches and panel presentations with Think Tank discussions (brainstorming sessions where the audience will be split by stakeholder group), and country case studies followed by Q&As. Examples presented will include either highly developed education systems, or those in a stage of intense transformation.
H.E. Dr. Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, ADEC’s Director General, outlined the importance of the event for Abu Dhabi: “The aim of TES is to address how educational change can be implemented across sectors in societies around the world. The conference delegates are all ‘transformation leaders’: people who are in a position to lead change in their respective areas, from government to the private sector. Over the two and a half days of the summit, these leaders will share knowledge and strategies, collaborating and offering their experiences of best practice in their own education systems for the benefit of all.”
He continued: “In building a knowledge economy in line with Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030, Abu Dhabi has a vested interest in education transformation. The UAE, like its partners in the GCC, seeks to reap a ‘demographic dividend’ if transformations in education are properly implemented: given that 65 per cent of the population is under 25 years of age, ADEC has a mandate to maximize the potential of young people in Abu Dhabi and empower them to be part of their society’s remarkable growth.”
TES is hosted by ADEC in partnership with the Directorate of Education of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), leading global management consulting firm Booz & Company, and the Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), the technology investment arm of Mubadala.
“The OECD is committed to supporting an integrated approach to education which helps economies improve the quality, equity, efficiency and effectiveness of their education systems,” said Ian Whitman, Head of Non-Member States, Directorate of Education at the OECD. “The Transforming Education Summit is very timely. The OECD welcomes and supports its aim to focus the global attention on the visionary changes needed for better skills and better policies for the 21st century, and on the shared responsibility of all stakeholders for the success of these changes,” he continued.
“The most urgent question that education leaders face is to reform educational systems so that they are relevant to rapidly changing economic and labor market needs,” said Richard Shediac, Senior Vice President of Booz & Company. “Education leaders need to develop capabilities that will allow them to implement transformation, think ahead for education needs, deliver change within their organizations, and lead across all the stakeholders in society. The Transforming Education Summit is dedicated to addressing these transformational issues, and Booz & Company is honored to join forces with the Abu Dhabi Education Council as knowledge partner of the Summit,” he added.
Booz & Company is developing an entry report around the theme of The Need for Transformational Leadership in Education: Three Key Capabilities for Lasting Change. Following the summit, Booz & Company will compile a post-conference report in partnership with ADEC containing the learning and recommendations from the summit’s discussions, to be used by participants to help effect change in their home countries.
“The Transforming Education Summit is a unique opportunity to learn from some of the world’s most respected leaders in education and in particular education reform,” said Ibrahim Ajami, CEO of the Advanced Technology Investment Company (ATIC), ADEC’s technology partner at the summit. “At ATIC a key area of focus is on educating the next generation of Emiratis as technology experts and we are pleased to partner with ADEC on this event.”
ATIC will provide participants with a technology platform for 21st Century knowledge sharing and networking that has been uniquely designed for this event. Agenda items, bios and discussion content for the sessions will be readily available through tablets, while dynamic messaging and networking features will enable participants to pose questions to panelists as well as exchange messages with other leaders at the event.
One of the case studies presented at TES will be on Abu Dhabi’s transformation. In order to better support the evolving economic, social and human capital needs of the UAE, ADEC has embarked on a comprehensive overhaul of the Abu Dhabi education system, launching ambitious P-12 initiatives to improve school infrastructure, raise standards of teaching and research, improve both teacher monitoring and student assessment, thus aiming to better prepare students for post-secondary education and the workforce. ADEC’s New School Model (NSM) has reformed education across the emirate’s 268 public schools, from teacher training and licensing to curriculum, infrastructure and the use of technology in education. Additionally, extensive collaboration between the Higher Education sector and semi-government entities (like Mubadala and ATIC) is underway to join efforts in the development of the human capital needed to address current and future societal needs.
TES aims to deliver tangible outcomes with lasting impact in educational systems locally and internationally. In addition to capturing and disseminating the experiences shared at the summit through a report, working groups will be launched to continue the analysis of lessons learned from reform efforts around the world.
A local forum will be organized in Abu Dhabi later this year to share the TES insights with members of the UAE education system, including principals, teachers, parents and students.