MENA education conference calls for innovative methods

Published November 16th, 2015 - 06:38 GMT

Educators, regulators and investors have come together in Dubai to discuss how innovative education models can help to transform the efficacy of education delivery in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region.

Hundreds of senior delegates from around the region are taking part in the four-day Education Investment Mena Conference, which will conclude on November 18 at the Ritz Carlton DIFC for the opening keynote by Dr Wafi Dawood, chief of Strategy and Excellence at the Knowledge and Human Development Authority.

Dr Dawood’s presentation, Talk the Talk; Walk the Walk – Innovation in Private Schools, emphasised the need for private schools in Mena to innovate to deliver education relevant to future generations, rather than repeating tired models.

The morning session also heard from Graham Brown-Martin, a global expert in education transformation, who delivered his presentation, Distilling Global Trends in Innovative Education Delivery, and provided a provocative view of international examples of innovative education delivery from around the world.

The high-energy seminar questioned how to better engage private capital to deliver truly disruptive, sustainable and meaningful new models of education to emerging markets.

“There’s a real problem with investment in EdTech currently in that investors often believe that education is about content delivery and testing," said Brown-Martin said.

“This reductionist approach demonstrates a lack of understanding about how learning takes place, the role of the teacher and the craft of teaching itself. Teaching is not a delivery system, it’s not Fedex, teaching is about knowing each student, finding their unique interests and nurturing potential," he said.

“There are significant challenges and opportunities in the MENA region. There is only limited Arabic educational content in digital form and Internet access is expensive or severely limited in rural or land-locked countries.”

The conference focuses on how private education businesses can improve the quality and delivery of both public and private education in the region.

At a time when the demand for employment-ready, skilled graduates is at its highest, speakers at the conference urged greater private capital investment into education, as well as greater collaboration between government and private companies to address the widening skills gap in Mena.

Free to attend Ed-Tech seminars feature for delegates to explore the latest innovations which can transform teaching methods.

The topics include getting user buy-in for technology strategies, using digital education videos as a tool for improved learning outcomes, creating a collaborative teaching and learning environment, and best practice in pilot projects for technology adoption.

The afternoon session on the first day of the conference featured a presentation by Andrew Short, director - International Business at New Zealand-based organisation Cognition Education.

Building on his experience in delivering strong educational outcomes with an accompanying financial performance that encourages investors and attracts growth, Short discussed leading educational thinking, design and impact.

“We are very excited about the opportunities in the private and public sector that are available in the MENA region. While we continue to operate successfully in the consulting space across four countries in the GCC, other areas of our growing diversified portfolio are expanding our horizons," said Short.

“Our professional development programmes such as Visible Learning continue to grow our global profile. ‘Visible learning’ is defined as when teachers see learning through the eyes of the student and when students see themselves as their own teachers," he said.

“With our global partners through Visible Learning we are witnessing our programmes’ real impact in student achievement across private and public K-12 offerings. This growth has greatly contributed to investor interest from the UAE and Saudi Arabia as we enter the market of developing and operating International K-12 schooling options,” he added.

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