Reinventing education.

Position:Interview with Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani of the World Innovation Summit on Education - Interview

Education remains the cornerstone of any prosperous society. And when African leaders talk about Africa's rich continent they all say its riches lie in its people, its human capital. As much as the indicators in education have improved, the continent still lags behind, especially if Africa is to become a global leader in innovation, services or even manufacturing. Luckily, new models of learning and innovative initiatives are yielding incredible results. It is to share these new ideas and developments, that The World Innovation Summit on Education (WISE) takes place in Qatar, where some of the world's most renowned experts in education convene every year. New African spoke to Sheikh Abdullah bin Ali Al Thani, WISE chairman, about his expectations for this year's summit and developments in education.

Why is global education strategically important to Qatar, and to you personally?

At WISE we believe that education must be placed at the top of the global agenda. While efforts have been made to widen access to learning, it is still a critical issue which is too often overlooked, and access does not in itself guarantee quality. The lack of relevant education and skills is the underlying cause of unemployment, poverty and conflict. We think education is the best investment nations can make for their people and their future. For example, finding solutions to environmental issues requires scientific research and engineering. But you don't get scientists and engineers in countries without a viable education system. The problem is most acute in Africa, where 57 million children still don't receive primary education.

Education has always been at the heart of my career first in teaching and then as Vice President, Education, at Qatar Foundation and President of Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU). I am also very honoured to have been Chairman of WISE since its launch by Qatar Foundation in 2009.

We live in a world where technology is changing the way we interact, the way we learn and the way we communicate. As Chairman of WISE, are you seeing rapid developments in the impact of technology on education?

Technology can improve access to education, but it also allows us to reinvent the way we learn. The recent debates about Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs), which make content from universities freely available online, indicate that the rapid spread of technology is transforming education around the world, offering possibilities that were unimaginable a...

To continue reading