Dr. Mansour Al Awar, Chancellor of the Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) and the Chairman of the Governing Board of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (IITE), called on the necessity to urgently move forward towards smart education to transform the future of education and secure learning opportunities for all. Such a move supports the fourth objective of United Nations Sustainable Development Plan 2030 to ‘ensure inclusive and equitable quality education for all.’ Dr. Al Awar made the appeal during his keynote speech centering on ‘Education for All: Smart Education Shaping the Future’ delivered on the sidelines of the International Forum on ICT and Education 2030 recently organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Qingdao, China.
The Chancellor met with Mr. Stanley Mutumba Simataa, President of the General Conference of UNESCO, with whom he discussed the main challenges faced by the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education in carrying out its responsibilities and fulfilling its main objective of strengthening the global education system and ensuring the availability of education and learning channels. Dr. Al Awar touched on the latest important achievements of the Governing Board of the Institute, referring to the significant role it plays in bridging the digital gap in the education system. He also commended the Institute’s extensive efforts to build knowledge-based societies by strengthening worldwide capabilities in deploying electronic platforms that facilitate full access to lifelong education and learning opportunities.
The forum held under the theme ‘Seize Digital Opportunities, Lead Education Transformation’ was widely participated in by various senior public officials, senior representatives of international bodies, senior executives from information and communications technology (ICT) companies, and notable scholars and practitioners. The event emphasized the need to effectively deploy ICT to realize the fourth Sustainable Development Goal of enhancing access to quality education.
The commitments made under the ‘Incheon Declaration’ and ‘Qingdao Declaration’ as well as the framework for Action of Education up to 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals were reiterated along with the role of ICT in the Post-2015 Education Plan. The forum also highlighted the impact of the innovative use of ICT in advancing the quality of education and rapid engagement, and broadening access to formal and informal learning channels.
During the event, Dr. Al Awar provided deep insights on key factors that leverage the value of the Lifelong Learning Model adopted by HBSMU. He underscored the inclusiveness and flexibility of the model which he explained was developed specifically to help learners of all ages gain knowledge and spur positive change across society. He also noted that smart education epitomizes the core of the lifelong learning approach, which he said will be significant in reshaping the future of education and learning via smart technology, innovation, and quality.
The HBMSU official also delivered a presentation on the importance of smart education in acquiring knowledge and utilizing social media websites. He noted that these promote the effectiveness of smart education in maximizing the engagement of the learner, increasing flexibility and agility in the educational process, broadening the sources of knowledge, and facilitating effective communication to achieve goals.
He further discussed HBMSU’s education and learning model which is based on creativity, innovation, technology and scientific research. He elaborated on the university’s academic programs, virtual learning environments, and interactive learning tools. This model, he said, aims to provide a unique educational experience to prepare a generation capable of advancing inclusive development. HBMSU constitutes the nucleus for smart education in the UAE and the whole Arab World.
Dr. Al Awar also shared the best practices and the most successful initiatives undertaken by HBMSU under the visionary leadership of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashed Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and President of the University, to reinforce the UAE’s position among nations making major contributions towards the evolution of higher education. He discussed the main features of the roadmap of the future of education which revolves around Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR), Cloud Computing, and the Internet of Things (IoT).
The Chancellor explained the University’s approach towards developing an educational philosophy based on the core principles of Flexibility, Quality, and Direct and Full Access to the best affordable educational opportunities. He also emphasized the University’s leading roles in both applying its Lifelong Learning Model – which he said will continue to impact positive global transformation – as well as realizing the goal of the Incheon Declaration to promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.
Dr. Al Awar further noted the growing need to create a new educational environment that makes universities hubs for enriching and disseminating knowledge, building intellectual capabilities, and developing analytical skills which are the essence of the Lifelong Learning Model. He also emphasized the urgency of consolidating the efforts of the international educational community to better address emerging challenges in order to transform education into an inclusive activity that offers hope to the next generations for them to build a better future that upholds their aspirations.
Dr. Al Awar said: “We are moving steadily towards supporting international endeavors to develop a new vision for the education system that will effect positive change in the lives of people. We want to help secure educational opportunities to guarantee a better life for all by 2030 by utilizing the Lifelong Learning Model which drives our philosophy of employing smart technology, innovation, quality, and scientific research to advance the process of inclusive development.”
“Smart Learning was a historical fiction which today becomes a fact that speaks for itself. While some might consider it as just an option for broadening of knowledge, others stick to it because they do not have any other choice. In the future, it will become the best choice for seekers of knowledge and science,” Dr. Al Awar concluded.
The International Forum on ICT and Education is an engaging platform for policy makers and experts in the field of ICT-enabled education. It facilitates the sharing of knowledge, experiences and recommendations for establishing a worldwide network and creating path-breaking projects in this field, as well as developing strategies and action plans for broadening the scope of digital innovations in the educational domain.