WISE, Qatar Foundation's global education initiative, has been able to make education a keyword globally, including at major non-education forums, a top official of the organisation told Gulf Times in an exclusive interview.
CEO Stavros N Yiannouka recalled that from early 2010s, WISE started joining major non-educational forums around the world. In many of these forums, education was not very much featured on the agenda. Their discussions used to be around topics such as economics, jobs, security and education was always missing.
"We made it our objective to include and inject education as a major topic of conversation at major forums that used to attract decision makers,” he pointed out.
WISE will hold its three-day global summit from tomorrow, both virtually and in person, at Qatar National Convention Centre with the participation of several international thought leaders, academics and policy makers.
“When we look back from then to the recent years, suddenly we find many of these decision makers talking about education. Education is the foundation for economic growth, for job opportunities among others. It is the tool for peace and reconciliation amongst nations. For Climate Change crisis, education is the core and for many other issues. Any problem that the world is facing, there is an education dimension and WISE has been able to highlight it to the world,” explained Yiannouka.
Dr Asmaa Alfadala, director of Research and Content Development, was of the view that WISE has been able to formulate several policies so far.
“We focus on three pillars of research, advocacy and programme to achieve the vision of WISE. We work with local, regional and the global community. We have started to work with the Ministry of Education and Higher Education locally. We involve policy makers from various fields based on the outcomes of research reports. We meet with them and identify the areas to be focused. We work with various stakeholders and help them in forming the policies,” said the research director.
“Recently we published ten research reports including an e-book and translated it into Arabic too. These are case studies on global projects and since it is about education, most issues are globally common especially during Covid-19. Four of them are related to Qatar and the Arab region. It also provides a comparative look on how countries across the globe are managing several challenges,” she continued.
Yiannouka said that Covid-19 is a major setback for education with significant learning loss all over the world and the summit will have a panel discussion on the impact of Covid-19 on education. “However the learning loss is not equally and uniformly distributed as the least fortunate are bearing the brunt of it. However, we were able to leverage technology fairly quickly and efficiently and we were able to carry on education even when we needed to respond to such a mammoth public health emergency,” noted the CEO.
“Covid-19 has thrown up bit of a paradox. On one hand it demonstrated what we can do with technology and how much technology can provide to balance our education systems. On the other hand, it has been very revealing what it can’t provide and how important the schools and the physical presence of students and teachers,” he highlighted.
“This crisis has proved that without teacher-student collaboration, there cannot be proper learning process. Social-emotional learning happens only physically. Therefore we have also changed our approach. However, technology has changed the education scenario and in the coming decades it could be a combination of both approaches,” added Alfadala.
Yiannouka highlighted that there will be a lot of focus on young people during the summit.
We have launched many initiatives for the youth such as the Young Innovation Lab, Learners Voice among others. From 2015, we began engaging the schools and started opening the summit to the students. This year, we have even gone beyond and included five young curators in our planning who helped develop the programme. We have a dedicated WISE Studio where we have programmes for young people by young people,” concluded the CEO.