Hamdan Global Forum for Excellence 2020 Concludes on a Positive Note

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Wide array of international experts discussed latest challenges and development of education

Dubai, UAE: The Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for Distinguished Academic Performance concluded the virtual ‘Hamdan Global Forum for Excellence’, which took place from 18- 22 October, with the participation of a group of world-class educators, specialists and experts along participants from students communities and wider society. The speakers discussed the challenges of education in light of Covid-19 and envisioned future practices in education. 

The forum included a series of training sessions and workshops in educational excellence and distance learning incorporating presentations, discussions and debates between experts and stakeholders in latest educational matters. It is one of the topics of highly importance, especially in these exceptional circumstances imposed by Covid-19, which prompted educational systems to innovate new methods in education. Participants stressed on the need to find alternatives to traditional teaching methods and the importance of continuous evaluation of these alternatives. Emphasizing the role of educational plans and objectives in the sustainable development strategies, the forum was also accompanied by a virtual exhibition of best practices for the winners of Hamdan Foundation Awards in different categories over its five days.

Dr. Jamal Al Mehairi, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees and Secretary-General of the Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for Distinguished Academic Performance, said, “We are pleased at the Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for Distinguished Academic Performance to conclude this forum with great success and with wide international participation. The forum succeeded in shedding light on the latest developments in the field of education around the world, in order to follow up on the latest developments, and on transferring pioneering experiences in order to strengthen the educational system, support our students in the education process and to continue the education journey efficiently and effectively. The forum also provided an addition to the educational community and opened new horizons for education makers and recipients in order to enhance its readiness for various variables in the future.”

The forum has inaugurated its work with an opening speech by His Excellency Hussain Al Hammadi, the UAE Minister of Education – Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation for Distinguished Academic Performance. Following the speech, Professor Jamil Al-Quraishi from the United Kingdom, a specialist on the mindset and attitude for high performance, presented the first session on the first day (Sunday 18 October), entitled “Productivity and High-Performance during Crisis.” He shared his experience in working with individuals and companies to improve their productivity and performance levels, saying that the basis for change in actions lies in changing the ideas of the individual. Elaborating on the matter, he adds that the roots of sustainable success, increased productivity, and the ability to deal with difficult circumstances is all dependent on the person’s mindset and attitude when performing. He also stressed the importance of developing the skill of connection and sharing ideas, especially with people who have different views, and thus work on making a connection between ideas that weren’t previously connected. He urged participants to measure productivity in its moral dimension, that is, the development of the individual to become better version of himself/herself, and not just in terms of numerical or physical achievements.

On the second day, (Monday, October 19), Professor James O’Meara, President of the International Council on Education for Teaching and Dean at Texas A&M International University, participated in the forum, where he delivered a session entitled “Teachers Innovators: Being the Disruption for Sustainable Futures beyond COVID-19”. On his part, Professor O’Meara praised the importance of Hamdan Foundation’s efforts in these difficult times to achieve a sustainable future for present and future generations by promoting innovation and excellence. He also recommended that educators and innovators take the lead in creating new learning environments to ensure quality, equitable and inclusive education and to enhance learning opportunities for all and thus accelerate the achievement of the fourth goal of the Sustainable Development Goals – the education agenda.

Dr. Salah Meemar, Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at Taibah University – KSA, presented a session under the title “Thinking Environment”, on the third day (Tuesday 20 October). He indicated the importance of involving the family in the thought-promoting schools initiative, thus creating an appropriate environment for development. He also explained 10 rules that contribute to enriching the students’ environment, which are represented by thought-promoting library, programs, food, courses, drawings, stories, problems, decisions, values, and games. Pointing to the substantial role that Hamdan Foundation is playing in fostering innovation and encouraging excellence and contributing to the creation of thinking environments.

On the fourth day of the forum, (Wednesday 21 October), Mr. Borhene Chakroun from France, Director of Policies and Lifelong Learning Systems Division at UNESCO, reviewed the organization’s experience in promoting distance learning under the current circumstances. The session concluded with an exploration of the way forward and brainstorm ideas for adapting to the “new normal” according to the research and statistics carried out by UNESCO in assessing the results of distance learning. For his part, he pointed to the importance of looking at the new resources available for smart investment in education in order to come out of the crisis with a new vision.

His Excellency Dr. Ahmed Said Ould Bah, from the Kingdom of Morocco, Advisor of Director General of Partnerships and International Relations at the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), had joined on the same day to present an overview of the educational practices distinguished in ICESCO (ICESCO Digital Home). He reviewed during his intervention that the “ISESCO Digital House” is a field tool that has a direct impact and a more powerful one on the poor, because it offers flexible communication tools, modern technological means, and comprehensive digital products and contents.

On the final day (Thursday 22 October), Dr. Najwa AlHosani, Dean of the College of Education at the United Arab Emirates University, has shed light on the issue of quality assurance in distance learning. She praised international efforts in support of teachers, and said: “The Global Education Alliance including the International Telecommunication Union and major groups that support teachers, such as Education International or the Varkey Foundation, the International Labor Organization and the International Task Force on Teachers for Education 2030, had recently issued a call to action to support teachers affected by the epidemic”. She praised the role of international organizations such as UNESCO in setting up a mechanism in which world-wide teachers could benefit from, while joining rapidly to exchange experiences, stand up to challenges and collaborate in solving them. She noted that the quality assurance is reflected in an organized and comprehensive effort to improve quality. Dr AlHosani added, “In conclusion, online education is here to stay, and there are high expectations that distance learning will continue in times of crises and non-crises, so we look forward for an exciting future for the education industry in the world.”

This was followed by a session presented by Mrs. Hessa Ahmed Al Rasheed, from the UAE Ministry of Education, in which she talked about the UAE experience in distance learning. “During the pandemic, the Ministry of Education decided to continue non-stop distance learning. At the time when the United Nations Organization for Culture, Education and Arts announced that more than a billion and a half had stopped education”, said Mrs. Rasheed. “The United Arab Emirates has proved here that we were able to surpass the challenge with all competence and continued until our country became a model for other countries to follow in the field of distance education, thanks to the forward-looking vision of its wise leadership”.

The Hamdan Global Forum for Excellence has also held several workshops, which highlighted a number of categories of the Foundation’s Award, namely, the best practices workshop in the field of distance learning – distinguished school category (Gulf), in addition to a workshop on best practices in the field of distance learning – the distinguished teacher category (local), in addition to a workshop on best practices in the field of distance learning among others.