Day 2 WISE 2009: Global Leaders Converge to Identify Specific Strategic Educational Priorities

Published November 18th, 2009 - 02:50 GMT

The World Innovation Summit for Education - WISE, an initiative of Qatar Foundation, continued in Doha, Qatar today with 1,000 representatives from various sectors including politics, academia, international institutions, the private sector, NGOs and others listening to and debating on the challenges and solutions for education in the 21st century.

Following a very successful opening day which was launched by Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, Chair of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, the international participants worked intensively during the second day to identify current worldwide educational challenges and explore potential solutions.

The second day of WISE offered a unique opportunity to focus on specific issues including the education of people with special needs, gender inequality and sustaining education in critical circumstances. This multidisciplinary international delegation is identifying strategic priorities which will then be formalized in a declaration during the closing plenary session of the third and final day of the Summit.

Addressing the Summit's opening plenary session on Sustainability, Former Chancellor of Germany, Mr. Gerhard Schroder declared that "we must make use of all available talents, skills and aptitudes," adding that "any country that wants to be successful, either economically or culturally, must utilize these resources. There is only one way to ensure that Governments continue to put an emphasis on education and that is through pressure by the people".

Among the other notable contributions at the Sustainability plenary session on day two were:

- President of Qatar University, Professor Sheikha Abdulla
Al-Misnad, who stressed that education is "not a static entity, but a
living, breathing one that is constantly evolving". Professor Al-Misnad
went on to say that "on both a national and global level, it is important
that the efforts of educational institutions complement rather than
compete with each other. This entails harnessing resources and existing
technologies to serve a wider base beyond the immediate community."

- United Nations' Under-Secretary-General for Communications
and Public Information, Mr. Kiyotaka Akasaka, who said that "the time has
come for a new culture of 'intellectual social responsibility', one that
takes teaching, learning and research beyond the classroom, laboratory or

Day two of WISE also featured a series of highly-engaging breakout sessions, categorized into 'Selected Priorities' and 'Solutions'.

Under the 'Selected Priorities' series of discussions, key policy areas debated included 'Women's Education', 'Education and Community Development', 'Sustaining Education in Critical Circumstances, Conflict Zones and Poverty' and 'Special Needs Education'.

Speaking at the 'Special Needs Education' session, Founder and Director of SMARTlab Digital Media Institute, Professor Lizabeth Goodman demonstrated how through innovation and technology, they are working in partnership with people with special needs to create open source software that enables a two-way educational interface.

She added: "It is vital that technology and support is offered to people with special needs and their network at the earliest possible stage in order to allow this community to fully realise their abilities."

The 'Solutions' breakout sessions, meanwhile, comprehensively covered a number of relevant educational issues such as 'Managing International Mobility', 'Education and Governance for Trust and Sustainability', Accreditation and Quality' and 'Increasing Access Through Technology'.

During the "Managing International Mobility" session, Dr. Diana Davis, Associate Provost for International Initiatives, Princeton University, emphasized the urgent need to promote more collaborative global partnerships between higher education institutions. She also suggested that a renewed focus on volunteerism should form an integral part of any such expanded educational alliances.

Strategic Director, Partnership For Schools, Mr. Steve Moss, concluded the session on 'Education and Governance for Trust and Sustainability' by underlining the importance of developing leadership capacity across the community in order to guarantee the sustainability of educational institutions.

The three-day Summit concludes tomorrow with an analysis of the role of innovation in overcoming educational challenges. A final closing session will allow the international gathering to focus on achieving a declaration defining educational priorities and next steps for WISE.

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