26.09.2017 - UNESCO Office in Doha

Research Study on Momentum for Education 2030: Improving Learning in the Gulf States presented in Paris

©Wlad Simitch

UNESCO is a place of leading positive change in education and supports the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 4 at country level. Utilizing research enables countries to learn lessons from national level experiences and gain insights to make informed decisions for improving the quality of learning and to enhance the performance of education systems.

Within the framework of SDG4-Education 2030, the Gulf States are conducting targeted policy research to gain insights in order to address education quality challenges, and scale up innovative and evidence-based strategies to achieve SDG4 targets. Recognizing the need for a new and forward-looking education agenda that is evidence-based and draws lessons from country experiences, UNESCO Doha carried out an extensive two-year research study focusing on Educational Quality covering the six Gulf States.

In continuation of UNESCO’s commitment to supporting Member States to promote SDG4-Education 2030 , the UNESCO Office in Doha and the Education Sector Division for Education 2030 Support and Coordination Section for Partnerships, Cooperation and Research at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France, have successfully organized a presentation and panel debate on  “Momentum for Education 2030: Improving Learning in the Gulf States,” held on 19 September 2017 from 10:00 a.m. to 12:30 noon at Room IX, UNESCO Headquarters, Fontenoy Building, Paris, France.

On behalf of Mr. Qian Tang, Assistant Director General for Education, Mr Svein Osttveit, Director of the Executive Office for the Education Sector, delivered an opening remarks. He emphasized that evidence from this research study provides valuable information on how teaching and learning takes place in the Gulf States and such an analysis can affect practice in education, when policy-makers use the insights to resolve issues in their specific contexts. He stressed that only when research is utilized that it becomes a step towards action.

In her opening remarks, Anna Paolini, UNESCO Doha Director and UNESCO Representative to the GCC and Yemen, also emphasized that the strength of the study is that teachers, educators, and policy makers participated together to gather evidence on key constraints and priorities to inform ED 2030 in the Gulf States.  Dr. Sobhi Tawil, Chief, Section of Partnerships, Cooperation and Research, UNESCO Headquarters, who also acted as the session moderator, presented an “Overview of SDG4-Education 2030: A renewed focus on relevant and effective learning.”

The presentation and panel debate focused on the presentations of the regional synthesis of the research and two specific case studies, namely Kuwait and Qatar case studies. These case studies are part of the two-year research study funded by Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF).  

Aimed at assessing education quality and learning outcomes in the six Gulf States, Faryal Khan, Programme Specialist for Education at UNESCO Doha, led the research in the GCC in collaboration with partners from the Ministries of Education of the Gulf States, the National Commissions, non-government organizations, universities such as Qatar University, among others.

In her presentation, Faryal Khan provided  a synthesis of the key findings, challenges and policy implications for the GCC.  Dr. Fatimah Al Hashem, Manager, Teacher Development Department, National Center for Education Development, Kuwait, presented the Kuwait Case Study highlighting that to improve quality-learning outcomes in Kuwait, there is a need to improve teacher training and preparation programs toward best practices in curriculum design and educational assessment with a focus on student-centered instruction that promotes the skills of logical thinking and creativity among students. Dr. Mariam Al Madaeed, VP Research, Qatar University, presented the Qatar Case Study focusing on the Al Bairaq programme implemented by Qatar University, Center for Advance Materials, as a science best practice for high school students.  

As the Gulf States align their educational policies with the renewed focus on the quality of education and the relevance of learning, the research findings suggest priorities and policy implications for attaining SDG4 targets.  Priorities for the way forward include professionalization of teaching; linking students’ performance with teachers’ performance to create performance incentives for teachers; and addressing the gender gap. 

A high-level panel comprising of Ms. Suzanne Grant Lewis, Director of IIEP, H.E. Dr. Hamda Al Sulaiti, Secretary General of UNESCO National Commission in the State of Qatar, and Dr. Natasha Ridge, Executive Director, Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi Foundation for Policy Research, Ras Al Khaimah, UAE, followed the presentations on key findings and recommendations of the research study.  A vibrant discussion on their thoughts on the issues and recommendations of the research took place focusing on important aspects of education such as  planning education systems, monitoring, learning assessment systems, teachers and pedagogy and gender equity. Utilizing their experience and expertise in the field, the discussants engaged the audience with a rich discussion session on some recommendations for addressing issues and challenges in the GCC towards realizing  Sustainable Development Goal 4, “to ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning by 2030” in the Gulf States.

Around 90 participants from selected permanent delegations particularly from Arab States, the Education sector, members of the panel of experts of the research study, national core team members of the research and other stakeholders in education attended the panel debate. Their presence affirms the commitment of various stakeholders towards promoting educational quality not just in the Gulf States but also other countries. It also reaffirms special interest to UNESCO in the fulfillment of its leadership and work towards attaining Sustainable Development Goal 4-Education 2030, which seeks to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

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