WISE promotes non-formal learning opportunities
July 25 2021 12:50 AM
Students engaged in a non-formal learning event.
Students engaged in a non-formal learning event.

Staff Reporter

The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), a global think tank of Qatar Foundation, is currently attempting to create more non-formal learning opportunities to foster more intrinsic motivation through its Learners’ Voice programme.
“The initiative, which equips fellows with self-expression skills, has been redesigned in 2021 to be a year-long series of extracurricular activities serving 45 local public middle- and high-schools from nine different schools, in a partnership with the Ministry of Education,” Aurelio Amaral, head of the Learning Ecosystems Track at WISE, said.
According to Amaral, “passions can create more active and engaged learners in the long run as opportunities to learn and grow don’t need to be tied to school grounds.”
He feels that there is a lot of potential for youth development beyond school borders by observing the surroundings in the neighbourhood, or by interacting with people and organisations from the communities.
 Motivating students is one of the key challenges faced by school leaders from public and private schools in Qatar, based on preliminary findings from an action-research project conducted by WISE, which has surveyed over 100 public and private schools and non-formal education providers in Qatar.
“To foster more engagement in school, many principals and teachers are seeking to offer a breadth of real world more opportunities outside the classroom space, which are related to the curriculum and connect to learners’ passions and interests. This includes visits to employers and cultural spaces, or – in times of Covid-19 and e-learning – virtual talks with leaders from various areas of expertise to bring an aspect of learning to life,” he noted.
WISE organised a kick-off session, in March 2021 with the curriculum and delivery partners, Eidos Global and PA Qatar.
According to Amaral, higher levels of engagement sparkle in particular when students use speculation and storytelling to discuss societal problems, such as examining the consequences of global warming by creating scenarios of how life in Doha would look like if the city was permanently flooded
“They could explore their identities and through the lenses of their communities, for example, by analysing older and more recent portraits taken in Qatar and observing how fashion traditions in the country evolved over time; interact with role models who can nurture their aspirations,” he said.
To substantiate the point, Amaral cites an example of Shaima al-Tamimi, a Qatar-based artist who  explored with the students the sub-text behind her works and those from artists from the region.
The personal connection and the contextualised references helped students to see a deeper purpose in developing their own photography projects.
“Through the learnings from the programme, it would be possible to collect some evidence on the contribution of non-formal learning to youth engagement in the formal education system in Qatar.
The experience might as well encourage more collaboration between schools and other actors in the society – especially those who can help to nurture youth’s personal interests and stimulate the pursuit of their ambitions in the future, “he said. “In our programme and research efforts, we have been working to identify the conditions and lay the foundations to establish and maintain in Qatar effective learning ecosystems – an emerging concept which consists of effective collaboration among schools, businesses and community-based organisations to offer inclusive learning opportunities that improve motivation, bridge gaps in a community and promote social cohesion,” he said.
“This, by no means, undermines the role of the formal education system. Rather it looks to capitalise on all the different learning places and assets within a community to support formal learning, and unlock the intrinsic motivation of learners.
“If youth can find new sources of motivation to learn outside school – especially when they are nearby in the community – this should only benefit and enhance the overall education experience,” added Amaral.

Last updated: July 25 2021 12:50 AM

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