Microsoft today announced that the United Arab Emirates will be a founding member of a global initiative called Leading Countries of the World in Transforming Education, a bold programme that will bring together trend-setting education ministries and high-level leaders from around the world, to collaborate on the future of learning.
In selecting founding members, Microsoft looked for regional trend-setters – ministries of education that had taken the most significant leaps in using technology to make classrooms more engaging for students.
In a letter of invitation to His Excellency Eng. Hussain Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education for the UAE, Microsoft praised the work done by the ministry in transforming learning experiences, calling education “the single most important investment in the future… vital to sustainable social and economic success, and a fundamental human right”. The letter made particular mention of the Mohammed bin Rashid Smart Learning Programme, under Director-General Mohammed Gheyath, which seeks to implement the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai – a classroom transformed by the latest devices and high-speed networks.
The UAE will join other selected countries, including Argentina and Finland, in shaping future approaches to education worldwide. Discussions will cover all elements of teaching: vision, administration, curricula, assessment, physical learning environments, accessibility and sustainability. The goal of the sessions will be to get proven innovators to share their success stories and present ideas for future transformations.
Microsoft announced Leading Countries of the World in Transforming Education at the inaugural BETT Middle East Leadership Forum & Expo, held in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Education Council at Intercontinental Abu Dhabi, from 6 to 7 April. Microsoft is a global partner for BETT (British Educational Training and Technology Show), a UK-born trade event that focuses on the use of technology in education. In its first Middle East edition, speakers included Ali Al Nuaimi, Director-General, Abu Dhabi Education Council ( ADEC ), UAE; Mohammed Gheyath, Director-General, Mohammed Bin Rashid Smart Learning Programme, UAE; Philip Parham, British Ambassador to the UAE; El Helali El Sherbeiny, Minister of Education and Technical Education, Egypt; and Anneli Rautiainen, Head of Unit of Basic Education and Early Childhood Education, Finnish National Board of Education.
Anthony Salcito, Microsoft’s Worldwide Education Vice President, shared details about the new programme and highlighted its partners during a keynote at the event today. He also shared a global perspective about the transformation happening in schools today and how that is being fuelled by the evolution of the modern workplace as businesses are moving from organization-centric to people centric. He shared examples from around the world that show how The five Cs — communication, collaboration, critical thinking, creativity, computational thinking — are becoming the core skills hiring managers are hungry for as they transform globally – and what we must look at infusing in education today. Salcito shared how Microsoft is helping to make this happen and how through its commitment to Education its empowering every student on the planet to achieve more. For example, he shared that Microsoft recently launched #MakeWhatsNext to celebrate female inventors and inspire young people–especially girls–to become tomorrow’s innovators in science and technology. Kicking off with an inspired video that spotlights amazing inventions from female-innovators, #MakeWhatsNext aims to dispel myths and stereotypes that discourage girls from pursuing computer science careers.
“Leading Countries of the World in Transforming Education, is all about pushing boundaries,” said Samer Abu Ltaif, Regional General Manager, Microsoft Gulf. “It’s all too easy to recycle old ideas that have worked in the past, but at Microsoft we have never been interested in the status quo. We have our eyes consistently on the next horizon. And the UAE’s Ministry of Education has that in common with us. They are innovators; they have eclipsed standards and established their own; and they understand the vital role technology can play in this exciting evolution of the classroom.”
“Education sits at the heart of societal progress,” said H.E. Marwan Ahmad Al Sawaleh, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Education. “It is the garden of our future economy, where we grow the next generation of engineers, doctors and teachers. What we do right now will determine how effective those professionals will be. We must equip our young people to be the leaders of tomorrow, and to do that we must continually look for ways to enhance their learning experiences. The UAE welcomes the opportunity to join Microsoft’s Leading Countries initiative as a founding member and share our success stories with our international partners. We are always appreciative of private sector companies that recognise, as we do, the importance of guiding our youth on a path to excellence.”
The first meeting of Leading Countries of the World in Transforming Education will be held in Helsinki, Finland at the end of May this year.