His Excellency Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, highlighted the UAE’s experience as a role model for building Global Citizenship, at the Closing Plenary of the fifth Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF), a Varkey Foundation initiative, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
HE Sheikh Nahyan outlined eight key points on the UAE experience: “Welcome the rest of the world, educate young people so that they can intelligently and confidently engage with the world with curiosity and respect, build a knowledge society, create an environment where people can live without fear, encourage dialogue across all cross-sections of the society, supplement study of native language with other world languages, reward the talents of the entire community – both women and men, join forces with intellectual enterprises worldwide, especially science and technology, and promote universal moral values,” adding that “these will go a long way in making global citizens.”
He also observed that education policymakers and teachers have a “special and shared responsibility and opportunity in the process of creating real global citizens.” Underscoring the potential of the Global Education & Skills Forum “to set something tangible and meaningful,” he challenged the audience to draft a charter of ‘real global citizenship’ that with the passage of time would take hold of the minds of leaders around the world in making ‘real global citizens’.
HE Sheikh Nahyan urged the world to “make our voices heard more than ever, as it is our collective responsibility to ensure that policies, programmes and practices will spread the goals and objectives of true global citizenship.”
Teachers for Peace
Addressing over 2,000 delegates from 140 nations, Hanan Al Hroub, the Palestinian teacher who won the 2016 Global Teacher Prize, reflected on the year since she was honoured. She said: “It was a moment when I realised the victory of human principles and values that I believe in, a moment of trust in the power of determination in achieving the goal.”
She said that winning the prize was only the “beginning of a fight for a nonviolent and peaceful way to achieve our dreams as Palestinians. Varkey Foundation gave me a platform to spread my message about peace and non-violence. I visited schools for refugees and we talked about the education of children who were traumatised and got through crises during their lives. I listened to their dreams and hopes that the war had destroyed. Their only demand was to allow them to continue their study and to respect their humanity.”
Al Hroub announced the launch of the ‘Teachers for Peace’ an initiative to be financed by Varkey Foundation and Interpeace with the goal of providing education in emergency situations during and after wars, and to serve as a centre for exchanging best practices. “We are together, hand in hand, to save this world from hatred and lead it toward a loving and peaceful world. What I believe is that we need only a free teacher to get to a bright future.
“With ‘Teachers for Peace,’ our call for teachers and children is to be flexible in their ability to adapt to struggles, and to avoid intolerance, extremism, intimidation and trepidation during the education process. And that they may have the ability to transform these struggles into a motive to change this reality to a better one,” she said.
Argentina – GESF Country Partner for 2018
At the session, Argentina was announced as the country partner of the Global Education & Skills Forum for 2018. In his video address, Esteban Bullrich, Minister of Education and Sport of Argentina, said: “Education has the power to bring peace to the world, and that is why we want to push the global teacher agenda. Every single teacher in the world is a peace worker and we want to have global teachers, to be peace workers for a better world. We want a better world and we are committed to achieving that. Education unites us all.”
Inspiring through adventure
British adventurer, writer and television presenter Bear Grylls shared his experience of pushing himself to scale Mount Everest, and used it as a referral point on how to shape ‘real global citizens,’ the theme of GESF this year.
He said: “It is not about scaling a mountain but about you all (the educators). You are extraordinary people in a truly extraordinary profession. And you instill in young people vision, courage, hope, humility and kindness, that tenacious spirit that zeal for life, and by doing that again and again, together we can change the world.”
His message to the young people was to: “just go for it; choose the path less trodden, embrace failure; don’t listen to the dream-stealers – and be kind – that is the most important lesson. Remember that our greatest wealth is our relationships. And never give up. Life is about living the dream worth fighting for, worth taking risks for, and understanding that the rewards in life don’t go for the brightest or bravest or cleverest or even the best. Rewards in life go to the dogged, determined, tenacious, and those who get back on their feet when kicked down, get up again and again.”
Education in the age of acceleration
Thomas Friedman, the author of The World is Flat and The New York Times foreign affairs columnist, in his keynote address, highlighted how education must adapt to today’s age of acceleration defined by three forces – digital globalisation, Mother Nature and Moore’s Law. “These three exponential accelerations are not just changing the world; they are fundamentally reshaping it,” said Friedman, who said this presents new challenges for educators. “It is reshaping how companies educate their workers, how parents need to educate our kids and how our communities need to educate on ethics.”
For companies, this means, turning artificial intelligence to intelligent algorithms so that people can learn faster. For parents, he said the advice for children must be to “think like new immigrants – as we are all immigrants in the age of acceleration; to think like an artisan and carve your initials into your work; think like a start-up – and always be in a beta mode; to nurture high passion, persistence and curiosity quotient; and to think entrepreneurially.
Varkey Foundation Challenge Fund awards
Four winners of the Varkey Foundation Challenge Fund, which aims to support education projects that have the potential to achieve significant lasting impact, were announced at the session. The four recipients of the grants are: Invincible Me, a UK children’s mental health charity; Teach for Uganda, which recruits promising university graduates to teach in under-served communities and schools central Uganda; Komensky Institute (Slovakia), that helps establish a teacher training programme to encourage independent thought and creativity; and Arab Campaign for the Education of All (ACEA), led by the Teacher Creativity Center, to help pilot National Teacher Prizes in 15 Middle Eastern and East European countries.
Global Teacher Prize 2017
In a star-studded event featuring Ranbir Kapoor, Mahira Khan, Bear Grylls and other celebrities, Maggie MacDonnell of Canada was awarded the Global Teacher Prize Winner 2017 at Global Education & Skills Forum (also known as "Davos of Education"). She lives and works in Salluit, an Inuit village deep in the Canadian Arctic.
For a complete coverage of Day 2 at Global Education and Skills Forum 2017, visit https://blog.educationandskillsforum.org/gesf2017-live-blog-day-2/
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