Education experts at Qatar Foundation (QF) have explored in a new book the collaborations between higher education and schools in different parts of the world – which, particularly amid the Covid-19 pandemic, have increased. 'University and School Collaborations during a Pandemic' was released in English and Spanish on October 5 and downloaded 12,000 times in the first 24 hours, a QF statement said on Thursday. The English copy has now reached 31,000 downloads.
Francisco Marmolejo, president of Higher Education at QF, who co-edited the book with Fernando Reimers, from Harvard University, described the pandemic as an opportunity to foster collaboration between universities and schools, address existing challenges that stem from them working in isolation, and identifying ways to resolve them.
“The book has shed light on the lessons learned from the pandemic era for the future of education,” he said. “It has examined concrete cases of collaboration from Qatar and 15 other countries, some of which existed before the pandemic and others that were created after the crisis began, where universities were reaching out to schools to support them as they continued education remotely.
“At the same time, these universities were also learning from schools, enriching their own educational experience for their students. This form of multidirectional collaboration has emphasised the merit of breaking the ‘ivory towers’ separating educational institutions from one another.”
Marmolejo believes the global interest in the book, reflected by download levels in the first week since it was released, is due to the timeliness of the topics it focuses on: understanding how connections between universities and schools can be successful, and how those connections are instrumental for improving education.
A chapter of the book – co-authored by Buthaina Ali al-Nuaimi, president of Pre-University Education at QF; Hend Zainal, executive director for Higher Education Strategy, Management and Partnerships; and Marmolejo – was dedicated to showcasing the global uniqueness of QF’s educational ecosystem, which contains the full educational system from kindergarten to postdoctoral education.
“The model of engagement between universities, elementary and secondary education within QF proves that collaboration is possible, can work harmoniously, and can be extrapolated to institutions outside Qatar’s borders,” said Marmolejo.
“Also, it describes how each school in the elementary and secondary education at Qatar Foundation specialises in a unique area of expertise or has a unique ‘personality’, and how it connects with a unique component of higher education.”
Highlighting the key takeaways from the cases studied in the book -- which will soon be released in other languages, including Arabic and Vietnamese – Marmolejo said the multidirectional collaboration between universities and schools has the capacity to benefit students. He also said there is a need to continue studying the topic in order to identify best practices that may eventually be taken into consideration by educational institutions across the globe; and that research capabilities within universities can be used more effectively for the benefit of education on many levels.
“Our university students at QF have actively volunteered to engage with secondary and elementary schools,” said Marmolejo. “And the lessons learned for them as individuals, as they continue preparing themselves to become citizens and professionals of the future, has been dramatic and significant. This is a result of collaboration. A similar situation has happened with university faculty members and school teachers.
“By studying cases in different countries, in different contexts, and in different institutions all over the world, we have many lessons to learn from in order to build a better future.”
The book is available on Springer, and can be downloaded through the following link https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-030-82159-3