In support of UNESCO’s efforts to advance education and human development in the African continent
UAE, April 20, 2020 – In line with its continuing commitment to make a quality focused shift in education and to leverage its unique experience and expertise in smart education, the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) recently took part in a special virtual seminar (webinar) attended by some of the most prominent international educational organizations and institutions. The virtual meeting was held to discuss moves on how to further enhance the constructive contributions of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in support of promoting education in the African continent.
The seminar, proved to be both timely and strategic, as it comes during the sudden emergence of the coronavirus (COVID-19), posing great challenges to education, especially in Africa, which lacks advanced educational infrastructure. The seminar was held in partnership with the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE), the UNESCO Nairobi Office (Regional Office for East Africa), and the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (UNESCO IICBA), amidst consensus on the importance of exploring new horizons for implementing joint projects that serves the aspirations of providing quality education in Africa to qualify new generations capable of investing their potential in building a better, safer and more prosperous future.
Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, Chancellor, HBMSU, joined some of the world’s leading personalities in the fields of education, communications and technology, which also included Ann Therese Ndong Jatta, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office in Nairobi; Professor Tao Zhan, Director of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (UNESCO IITE); Changwei Qin, Secretary-General of the Chinese National Commission for UNESCO; Yomiko Yokozeki, Director of the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa (UNESCO IICBA) and Professor Asha Kanwar, President and CEO of the Commonwealth of Learning. During the virtual meeting, the dignitaries were able to discuss and create an initial action plan that is aimed at supporting education in the African continent via a series of electronic seminars at the local and regional levels and providing educational resources via the Internet from the leading pioneering institutions, which includes the HBMSU, Huawei, Facebook, Coursera, Commonwealth of Learning, Weidong and UNESCO IICBA.
The attendees agreed on the importance of the concerted efforts between educational institutions, technology companies, search engines and social media in spreading the culture of smart education. This is highlighted with the recent announcement of providing education, training and communication platforms from Google and Facebook and the launch of a television channel dedicated to supporting education as the best way to advance nations.
Dr. Al Awar emphasized on the importance of HBMSU’s commitment to leverage its pioneering experiences in the service of the process of developing education in Africa. He stressed that the university is keen on organizing free electronic training courses for faculty and staff of African schools and universities that will be nominated by UNESCO, following the success of its earlier offered courses, “Be an online tutor in 24 hours” and “Design an online course in 24 hours,” which have been launched in five languages and have seen the participation of 110,000 participants from all over the world and resulting in the issuance of more than 92,000 certificates. The courses were an advanced step towards providing the necessary tools to harness and adapt smart technology in providing education for all in order to keep pace with the rapidly changing global changes.
Al-Awar called for uniting international efforts to invest in training and developing teaching resources in Africa as it is the cornerstone for providing modern educational and knowledge resources that stimulate new generations to be creative and innovative to keep pace with the successive transformations of the twenty-first century. He also announced the HBMSU’s intentions of organizing electronic seminars to promote the capabilities related to quality management, excellence and smart education, which has proven to be the backbone of future development.
Al Awar said, “The HBMSU is honored to be joining fellow international entities in education in support of UNESCO’s efforts to advance the march of education and development in the African continent, under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the President of the University. We are more than happy to share our world-leading experience in improving the competence of teachers through the adoption of the latest educational methods and best practices based on the use of information and communications technology to ensure the improvement of the quality of education and its continuity, especially in light of the current challenges and emerging crises that we are all facing.”
“We look forward to actively contributing to the success of projects aimed at providing teachers in Africa with collective resources and advanced joint capabilities, in cooperation and coordination with the UNESCO Office in Nairobi and the UNESCO International Institute for Capacity Building in Africa, as we believe in the importance of providing educational opportunities as a lifeline during crises and the most powerful way to sustain life,” he added.
Al Awar concluded, ” The continent of Africa suffers from significant challenges in the field of education, given the lack of resources and weak infrastructure, which underscores the importance of UNESCO’s role in launching exceptional initiatives to help spread education, raise its quality and ensure its continuity in African countries. HBMSU stands firmly with UNESCO in its noble endeavors to harness all our pioneering educational and technological capabilities in order to provide inclusive and equitable education for all, within the framework of achieving the goals of the United Nations for sustainable development and in line with the vision of our rational leadership in making education our gateway to building a person and moving through it to global horizons, progress and knowledge leadership. We are undoubtedly going ahead with the implementation of our quality focused initiatives, which represent an extension of the UAE’s pioneering role on the global map as an influential force in serving the issues of societies and peoples and overcoming the obstacles to continue the process of progress, renaissance and development.”
The webinar started with an opening speech given by Ann Therese, Director of the UNESCO Regional Office in Nairobi, who chaired the agenda and also saw presentations made by Dr. Al Awar, UNESCO International Center for Higher Education Innovation (UNESCO ICHEI), UNESCO International Research and Training Centre for Rural Education (UNESCO INRULED), Commonwealth of Learning, Chinese National Commission for UNESCO, Huawei, Google, Weidong, Facebook, Coursera and Star Times Television Network among others.
The online Webinar was held under UNESCO supervision with the support and participation of international organizations, educational institutions and technology and communications companies, including Google, Facebook and “Huawei. The HBMSU’s participation reflects the commitment of the UAE to support humanitarian work and development initiatives and lend a helping hand to various countries of the world and contribute effectively to international efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 around the world and reduce its repercussions.