Edexcel Educators' Summit (EES) 2011 held last week at Al Bustan Rotana Hotel in Dubai, concluded with a firm message to Educators and learners in the Arab World: "If you assumed learning is always found in a book, think again".
The summit emphasised that attitudes to education must change along with the importance of tailoring the educational offer to the needs of the individual learner and more focus on developing a broader skill set for students as the region seeks to shape a new generation of creative high achievers and entrepreneurial thinkers that will drive innovation and possess the ability to compete in the global workplace.
These messages were reinforced several times at the two-day summit which was attended by schools, colleges and institutions from all over the Middle East and North Africa as well as local governments and businesses from the region.
In his address at the summit, Dominic Jermey, UK Ambassador to the UAE, said: "The UAE places great importance on education and the UK education brand is well respected in this country. UK awarding bodies have played an important role in the UAE, both in developing qualifications and sharing UK knowledge and experience. The recent development of a National Qualifications Framework in the UAE will open up more opportunities for these organisations. Following last week's Edexcel Educators' Summit, we look forward to successful outcomes and continued partnerships between the two countries."
According to Unesco Institute of statistics report for 2008, UAE is ahead of many GCC countries in the average public expenditure on education as part of the total expenditure which stands at 23.4 per cent against 11.7 per cent to Bahrain, 12.9 per cent to Kuwait, 19.3 per cent to KSA.
Maria Sundin, organiser of the Summit and Regional Business Development Manager at Edexcel said: "EES is Edexcel's flagship event in the region. We were very satisfied with the results of the summit, and we are glad that educators from regional schools took an active part in the sessions focused on improving their educational offer and tailoring to regional needs like employability. 'The summit stressed on the need of collaborating to provide personalised learning, enhancing the student experience and academic achievements to deliver relevant and stimulating qualifications of world class."
Sundin further added: Delegates had a chance to listen to a session on the macroeconomic outlook on education in the region by Meed Middle East who stated that UAE's educational spend in 2010 reached $2.7 billion representing 22.5 per cnet of its annual budget, which is a big chunk of the budget and this really symbolises UAE's commitment to investing in and developing its education sector.
The summit served as a platform for Edexcel to launch their new International Diploma and Edexcel's vocational qualifications for schools that provide a practical, real-world approach to learning alongside a theoretical background. Also launched at the summit, were the Edexcel International Primary and International Lower Secondary Curriculum allowing schools to benefit from full a full Edexcel suite starting from Primary School through to Secondary School encompassing a full learning progression pathway.
John Rynsky, Assistant Principal, Kuwait English School who participated in the summit said: "We got to know about the changes happening in the UK education sector and their potential impact on what we are doing in the Middle East. Also, we learnt about achievements of BTEC and how to leverage on its wide appeal in the GCC. Students here had misconception that vocational education is only for those who don't have a better option."
S Padmini, Assistant Director, Academics, Peeves Group of Schools, said: "We have a network of schools in the KSA and this summit helped us to know better the UK curriculum as we are planning to open schools in Abu Dhabi and Sharjah. The summit gave us insights on feasibility and viability of starting such a project of opening schools in the Arab World."
Ghada Tabikh, Al Murooj School, Abu Dhabi said: "We came to the summit to know better about changes taking place in primary and lower secondary curricula in the world. With the global downturn, education is a key industry to invest into. We learnt about economic and geographic changes and the future of education."
With radical and innovative educational reforms and world class systems in place, the Middle East education systems are striving to groom future generations to work in global economies. As a result, Edexcel Educators' Summit 2011 addressed schools' needs for providing a rigorous knowledge base as well as developing workforce behaviours such as team work, global citizenship and innovation.
Edexcel is the leading awarding body and is part of Pearson, the world's leading learning company. Pearson offers academic and professional qualifications, teaching and learning resources, digital solutions, content and assessment. Pearson works with thousands of schools, colleges, employers and other places of learning globally and reaches over 85 million learners to help more people make progress in their lives through education.