Global summit aims to entirely reshape education at Expo 2020 Dubai

RewirEd gathering will bring together the most influential global minds on teaching

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The world's most influential thinkers on education will be brought together at Expo 2020 Dubai, to come up with a new style of teaching.

The RewirEd global education summit will focus on how to entirely change the way children are educated, in order to create make the system fit for purpose for the 21st century.

We need a new approach towards education. The system that we have today is the same system that was set 100 to 150 years ago
Tariq Al Gurg, Dubai Cares

Current learning systems are just not working anymore, Tariq Al Gurg, the chief executive of Dubai Cares, told The National, as he introduced the summit's agenda and speakers at the launch on Tuesday.

"We need a new approach towards education. The system that we have today is the same system that was set, 100 to 150 years ago. Hardly anything has changed, and it is not viable anymore," said Mr Al Gurg.

"Why can't we have a system that can be customised, a system that can be sustained for the future and the changes that are happening to the world, whether they are technological advancements, or the way we think.

"The children of today, the youth of today, they are into technology, and smartphones and applications.

"We have to marry the new education system with what the children like, because you can't force children to learn on a system that is 100 years old."

A system in crisis

Even before the pandemic education was in crisis. According to UNESCO, 617 million young people lack basic math and literacy skills, while by 2030, 200 million children are projected to have no schooling at all and only 60 percent will complete secondary education.

Experts believe the widespread disruption of children’s studies by the pandemic will further increase the disparities in education.

Learning opportunities will be further reduced for girls, as well as for those living in poor or rural areas, those living with disabilities, refugees and those forcibly displaced.

Tariq Al Gurg, the chief executive of Dubai Cares, the UAE charity organising the RewirEd global education summit at Expo 2020 Dubai. Chris Whiteoak / The National

The RewirEd summit will be hosted at Expo 2020 Dubai as part of the Knowledge and Learning Week from December 12 to 14 at the Dubai Exhibition Centre on site at the world's fair.

For the first time since the pandemic, heads of states, ministers, high profile speakers, international NGOs, academia, young people and representatives from the public and private sectors from around the world will come together to figure out a new way forward in the education sector.

Key international organisations involved in the RewirEd Summit include UNICEF, UNESCO, UNHCR, the World Economic Forum (WEF), the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), Education Cannot Wait (ECW), the World Food Programme (WFP), Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank.

In-person speakers will include the former President of Tanzania, Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete; Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Co-operation and director general of Expo 2020 Dubai; and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is currently the UN's Special Envoy for Global Education.

Education for a post-pandemic world

Mr Al Gurg said the pandemic had starkly illustrated the need for a change, and that is why the Dubai Cares pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai puts a spotlight on the transformative power of childhood education

"Not every household experienced Covid-19, but nearly every household experienced an interruption in their children's education. We're talking about something everybody needs.

"In the past, there was no technological advancement, but now, with all the technological advancements, with all the wars, with all the natural disasters and the pandemics and epidemics, we need to have a new approach towards education.

"Look at the refugees, if we think we can take the current systems and use them to teach refugees - we can't."

Omar Shehadeh, chief international participants officer at Expo 2020 Dubai, said, “The world is witnessing an unprecedented disruption of educational systems. Creative thinking, innovative solutions and technology must be deployed to ensure quality education for all.

"The RewirEd Summit, which is the flagship event during Expo2020 Dubai’s Knowledge and Learning Week, provides a platform to spark conversation among different people in efforts to generate new ideas on how to tackle the future of education.”

The summit will be organised around three topics - Youth, skills and the future of work; Innovation in education; and Education financing.

Cutting across the three principles, there will also be a focus on where the need is greatest – namely countries affected by crisis, whether that is war or Covid-19.

Registration for the summit is now open to everyone, because the organisers of RewirEd believe that education is everybody’s business. Attendees can register online.

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Updated: October 07, 2021, 7:14 AM