Director-General Participates in Opening of World Innovation Summit for Education in Doha
The Director-General participated in the open plenary panel of the World Innovation Summit for Education in Doha, Qatar on 13 November, setting the stage for the theme of this year’s edition, “Collaborating for Change.”
Introducing the Summit that gathers some 12,000 participants from 100 countries, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser stated that “we live in a world where we need to share,” emphasizing that education is a moral and practical obligation that calls for a new social contract and a culture of innovation. “Everyone should contribute to these efforts that will not succeed without effective partnership.”
During the first plenary panel discussion, Mrs Bokova, who was also representing the UN Secretary-General, affirmed that “education brings sustainability to all areas of development and is part of the answer to globalization and to the financial and economic crisis.” Highlighting the challenges of access, quality and equity, she stated that focused national policies, adequate resources and partnerships can accelerate progress and enable innovation, including through technology and open educational resources.
The extent to which education systems were responsive to change and geared to the future was raised by all the speakers. Dr. Andrey Furesenko, assistant to the President of the Russian Federation, stressed that attention to quality was key. “We have to push forward to unify the quality of education across the country and on teachers. Education has to send that signal that it gives opportunities to people.”
Andrew Swiger, Senior Vice President of ExxonMobil, pointed to the role of the business sector in matching gaps between education and skills in specific national settings, drawing attention to technical training centres set up by his corporation in Nigeria and stressing the importance of drawing students to science, technology and mathematics subjects.
“Education is becoming the big issue of the 21st century,” concluded Mrs Bokova. “If we want to bridge the gap between poverty and prosperity, between tolerance and intolerance, if we want to promote sustainable development and foster global citizenship, education has to be the priority and it is only through partnerships that we will achieve progress.”
The WISE Prize for Education, announced at the end of this session, was awarded to Mahdav Chavan, the co-founder and chief executive of Pratham, the largest NGO in India that started in the slums of Mumbai City and now provides education and literacy to millions of marginalized children and adults across India and extended its reach to several African countries and Pakistan.