WISE 2014: The World’s Most Significant Education Summit

NeeshadAuthor : Neeshad V S holds a Master’s degree in Energy and Environment from VIT University, India.  He is an Environment Advocate, Social Activist and Campaigns extensively on social platforms to raise the awareness about Climate change, Water & Sustainability. Follow him on Twitter @ineeshadvs & Facebook page NeeshadVs.

Last week I attended the WISE Summit 2014 in Doha, Qatar. This event has been on my radar for a few years as it causes a significant splash in social and mainstream media annually. When I received an invitation to attend, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m glad I did. This gulf state of Qatar is providing something more substantial for Education, So much so that it is becoming one of the most significant players in the field of education innovation, supporting a raft of projects from grassroots basic literacy through to high-end university research. As well as trying to fast-forward its own education system, it is supporting projects in some of the toughest environments.

The annual WISE Summit is the premier international platform provides a timely opportunity to collaborate, innovate and reflect on the importance of education as a pillar of sustainable development. Over the course of three days, under its main theme of “Imagine, Create, Learn: Creativity at the Heart of Education” the 1,500 delegates from more than 100 countries are considering ways to raise the status of education on the global agenda through five plenary and 20 breakout sessions, featuring 100 speakers. Delegates represent a wide range of backgrounds education, politics, NGOs, grassroots organizations, and the private sector to debate, network, share and explore innovative solutions to pressing challenges facing education.

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About the World Innovation Summit for Education – WISE

WISE is a global collaborative initiative established by Qatar Foundation under the patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser Al Missned. WISE was launched with a mission to address the urgent challenges and powerful economic, demographic and technological pressures facing 21st-century education. The annual WISE Summit brings together eminent decision-makers and thought-leaders from multiple sectors to generate dialogue, seek innovative solutions, raise awareness of the importance of learning and inspire actions, which will make a real difference to the lives of people across the globe. WISE is a year-round platform and forum for the sharing of experience and best practices.

Nobel for Education

There has never been a Nobel Prize for Education and it is the Qataris who have been the first to create an equivalent, launching the WISE prize year after year, worth $500,000 (£319,000).

Ms Ann Cotton was awarded the 2014 WISE Prize for Education. Ann Cotton has transformed the lives of countless girls and young women in Africa. The British education pioneer has just received the 2014 WISE prize in Doha in recognition of her work in giving learning opportunities to females in sub-saharan Africa, where it is estimated some 24 million girls do not get any schooling. Cotton is the founder of the Campaign for Female Education or Camfed.

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Why invest so much in education?

Children are the adults of the future. Some 58 million children worldwide do not have access to primary education, a fundamental human right. They face barriers such as poverty, gender discrimination, conflict and dispute, and natural disaster. Without an education, their opportunities and chances in life are limited.

Education is constantly confronted with a dual threat one, Acknowledgement that it is a foundation for all human progress and able to lift regions and society out of poverty and secondly, Public policy and investment that denies the value of education. When society faces a problem, whether racism, violence, or inequality, education is the first scapegoat and the first solution. Report after report validates the role of education in improving the personal lives of individuals and the public sphere of highly educated regions. Education can play a critical role in preparing for natural disaster. Additionally, education can play an important role in promoting disaster risk reduction and teaching basic scientific concepts related to climate change and sustainable practices. The world is not only moving away from a school culture or memorization, regurgitation, and high stakes testing, but also moving away from a conception of knowledge as something that can be downloaded like data, or contained in vessel-like brain.

We must all unite by a shared belief that education is the key to progress and prosperity. It unlocks personal potential and encourages peace, collaboration and sustainable development. That’s why primary education must remain our first priority. We must be committed to equipping children, youth and women with the tools to learn wherever they may be.

Thus to conclude, it’s not as headline grabbing or as controversial as the 2022 World Cup here in Qatar, but this is arguably a more vital part of Qatar’s effort to attract the talent and investment that will put it on the world stage. For a small desert country that knows it must invest its oil and gas billions well before they run out, there is one phrase repeated over and over here: “turning a carbon-based economy to a knowledge-based one”.

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