“There is no way forward without putting education as a priority, especially in the Arab world,”
When oil rich countries get involved in global education projects, it is easy to be cynical and only expect some air-brushed philanthropy and gold-plated business school sponsorships.
But the Gulf state of Qatar is providing something more substantial.
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 man at the centre of many of Qatar’s education initiatives is Sheikh Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, a member of Qatar’s ruling family and a former university professor.
Looking at the epic scale of Qatar’s spending on education this must make him one of the world’s most ambitious ex-teachers.
Speaking in London, he set out the strategic thinking. When the oil runs out, they want to be left with a viable, advanced economy.
It’s something like lottery winners who buy their children the best education, so that they’ll be able to fend for themselves in the years ahead.
Instead, they’re recycling their gas and oil into knowledge – building universities, reforming the school system, improving vocational training and setting up an international forum for finding the most effective forms of innovation.
“The blessing of the oil and gas won’t last forever – so focusing on something sustainable is more important,” says Dr Abdulla.
But a high quality education system is not created overnight – so he says they decided to “jump start” this with overseas partnerships.
Eight international universities, predominantly from the US, set up state of the art bases in Qatar’s Education City campus.
via The Economist – Sean Coughlan
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