Event preview: Global Education & Skills Forum 2017

Event preview: Global Education & Skills Forum 2017
Event preview: Global Education & Skills Forum 2017
Published: 12 March 2017 - 2:25 p.m.
By: Parinaaz Navdar
The Global Education & Skills Forum is set to return to Atlantis The Palm, Dubai from March 19-20, 2017. Through its theme of 'How do we make 'real' global citizens?', GESF is challenging its delegates to consider what we need to teach our children and how we can move those lessons to action.

An initiative of the Varkey Foundation the annual event attracts leaders in business, finance, government, public policy, academia, philanthropy, and more. Among this year's speakers are former prime minister of Australia Julia Gillard; yogi, mystic, and bestselling author Sadhguru; Argentine education minister Esteban Bulrich; American journalist, author, and three time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas Friedman; and director for education and skills, and special advisor on education policy to the secretary-general at the OECD Andreas Schleicher.

Commenting on what delegates can expect at the event, and the key topics, Varkey Foundation CEO Vikas Pota tells Education Journal Middle East: "There will be a series of thought-provoking debates with expert speakers taking opposite sides of a debating chamber (modelled on the UK House of Commons) as strong interests and fierce questioning are used to get to grips with topics ranging from whether schools should teach national values, to whether robots can solve the global teacher recruitment crisis.

"There will be a series of powerful short talks with special guest speakers sharing their unique points of view and real life experiences, inspiring and challenge delegates in the ways we can each take responsibility for public education. There will be detailed briefing sessions to help answer the overarching question of this year's GESF "how?" with leading practitioners describing how to build and share scalable solutions. Delegates will not only hear best practices from around the world but gain a detailed understanding of these as they have been implemented in programmes and national systems."

Additionally, the top 10 finalists of the Global Teacher Prize will present masterclasses live 30-minute lessons showcasing their methods which were hugely popular last year.

There will also be 'Meet the Mentor' sessions where delegates can connect with some of the world's most influential leaders as they share their experience and current public education thinking. These one-hour sessions allow delegates to ask direct questions of each mentor.
This year's GESF delegates will also be pitching their policy and scalable education development ideas to a panel of education ministers and business leaders to see how public, private and social sectors can solve today's greatest education challenges. This session will be called 'Policy Pitch'.
To address its theme of creating real global citizens, GESF will also offer workshops and briefings, Pota explains.

"For example, we have a workshop on continuous learning from MIT entitled 'How do we teach skills today that address the professional needs of tomorrow?', which will drill down into how we can equip school leavers with the right skills for the right jobs of the future, as well as underlining that in the fast developing technological world of tomorrow, learning will not stop after young people leave school. 'Preparing for success in an interconnected economy' is a joint briefing on global competence education from The Asia Society & OECD, which explores what steps will be necessary to keep education in schools relevant and keep pace with the demands of the global economy of tomorrow as both are enhanced by developments such as the Internet of Things, 5G and virtual reality," he says.


The two-day event will culminate with the announcement of the US$1 million Global Teacher Prize. The first Global Teacher Prize awarded in 2015 saw the winner chosen from over 5,000 nominations and 1,300 final applications from 127 countries. In year two, 8,000 teachers in 148 countries entered the Global Teacher Prize and for this year's Prize there were 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries around the world, Pota reveals.

"We are keen to ensure this isn't just a one-off annual event, and Global Teacher Prize activity continues throughout the year. The winner will visit major events around the globe and we encourage the great work of teachers to be shared all year round on social media," Pota says.

Two teachers from the UAE Rohan Roberts and Shaikha Al Shehhi were among the top 50 shortlisted candidates this year. The list was further culled to a final list of 10 (pg55), and the winner chosen by the Global Teacher Prize Academy will be announced on day two of GESF.
Members of the Global Teacher Prize Academy include: Freida Pinto, an actress from the United States; Wendy Kopp, co-founder and CEO of Teach for All; Brett Wigdortz, founder and CEO of Teach First, Nick Booth, CEO, The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry; James E Ryan, dean and professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Jeffrey D. Sachs, world-renowned professor of economics and special advisor to the UN; and Lewis Pugh, a long distance swimmer.

"The judging goes on behind closed doors and PricewaterhouseCoopers is responsible for ensuring that the balloting process is fair and accurate," Pota states.

The winner of the Global Teacher Prize in 2016 was announced by Pope Francis via a video message, and presented on stage by HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. However, when asked about presenters for 2017, Pota concludes: "You'll just have to wait and see!".


Salima Begum Elementary College for Women, Pakistan
David Calle Unicoos, Spain
Wemerson da Silva Nogueira Escola Antonio dos Santos Neves, Brazil
Marie-Christine Ghanbari Jahromi Gesamtschule Gescher School, Germany
Tracy-Ann Hall Jonathan Grant High School, Jamaica
Maggie MacDonnell Ikusik School, Canadian Arctic
Ken Silburn Casula High School, Australia
Yang Boya Yunan Province, China
Michael Wamaya Kenya
Raymond Chambers Brooke Weston Academy, United Kingdom

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