Youth to take centre-stage at this year’s WISE Summit


Youth to take centre-stage at this year’s WISE Summit

The biennial WISE Summit in Doha Qatar, perhaps the world’s biggest and most important international education conference, is on schedule for its December 7 – 9th opening.

This year’s global summit for education, WISE, is also possibly the first major international conference on the increasingly important theme of education since the pandemic struck – and it could not have come at a more necessary time.

The overall theme is: ‘Generation Unmute: Reclaiming our Future Through Education’ and as the title suggests, it will focus on the views and thoughts of youth.

WISE was established by Qatar Foundation in 2009 under the leadership of its Chairperson, Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. It is an international, multi-sectoral platform for creative, evidence-based thinking, debate, and purposeful action in education.

The Covid-19 pandemic, as every parent and child knows, played havoc with education systems around the world. Some countries – and some institutions within countries – coped better than others but no one, administrator, educator or student escaped unscathed.

This WISE summit will bring together a global community of thousands of experts and innovators – both virtually and in-person – to explore the most pressing challenges in education, and give voice to the young and underprivileged who have borne the brunt of the disruption from COVID-19.

Stavros N. Yiannouka, CEO of WISE, said: “There has never been a more pressing need to connect education experts, policymakers, social entrepreneurs and – most importantly – young people to discuss how we can reclaim our future through education.

“Over the last few decades education has been touted as a panacea for the world’s ills. So we need to account for an apparent global failure to find a way forward on a range of issues, and find ways to build consensus – for the sake of young people now and for future generations.”

Young people will take centre-stage at the summit this year. For the first time, they will have their own stage and live stream channel, where young change-makers in education will select their own topics and speakers to actively contribute to the discussion.

The WISE Young Curators programme will feature seven dynamic education change-makers from around the world curating their own content and selecting their own topics in WISE’s first ever live streamed channel, the Youth Studio. They come from India, Canada, Nigeria, Italy, Austria, Malaysia and Qatar.

The Summit will feature around 190 sessions – panels, debates, talks, workshops and more. Some of the sessions will be hybrid, available for participants attending in-person or virtually. Others will be fully in-person, “offering the delegates attending the WISE Summit in Doha an immersive and innovative experience over three days,” say the organisers.

A third set will be fully virtual, fostering global conversations among participants.

Contributors will explore a wide palette of some of the most pressing issues in the post-pandemic education landscape. Among other topics, they will discuss issues such as urgent reforms needed to enable students to recover from the disruption and thrive; how social and emotional learning can be placed at the heart of education and how relationships between students, teachers and parents can be enriched.

Underpinning the sessions will be an examination of how a greater and more diverse use of technology and the range of tools it has now made possible can be applied to a host of educational services.

“One of WISE’s core concerns is ensuring equal access to quality learning for the entire student population: how can we create a broader, fairer and smarter education system for all,” say the organisers.

Key speakers include: Gitanjali Rao, innovator, author and STEM promoter, USA; Sir Anthony Seldon, former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, educator and contemporary historian, UK; and Yasmine Ouirhrane, Founder, We Belong Europe, UK.

Since its inception, WISE has always given Africa’s educational landscape a special place and the interaction has been of great benefit to the continent. Given its deep concern and focus on Africa’s youth, New African, the continent’s widest read and most influential magazine, has also enjoyed a long relationship with the organisation and is delighted to continue this year as well. Keep a look out for more details about the WISE Summit.

The WISE Awards

Each year, the Wise Awards recognise six projects for their innovative and impactful approaches to pressing education matters. This year’s diverse pool of projects came from all over the world and tackle different education challenges, from literacy to edtech and social and emotional learning.

This year’s six winners are: the Delhi Government’s Happiness Curriculum, helping to develop mindfulness, critical thinking and other social and emotional skills; Taleemabad, a ‘city of education’ in Pakistan providing localised content using digital technologies; Trauma Informed Schools in Turkey to help young Syrian refugees and the community around them; Onetab, a solar-charged tablet developed by the UK and Nigeria-based company Onebillion to build literacy and numeracy schools in any country; ProFuturo Digital Education Programme, from the Telefonica and la Caixa foundations, creating a digital education program in areas without connectivity; and Let’s All Learn to Read is an innovative model for developing literacy in Colombia and Panama.

The WISE Prize for Education

The much coveted WISE Prize for Education, established in 2011 is the first award of its kind to recognise an individual or a team for an outstanding contribution to education. Its objective is to give visibility to education heroes around the world who have dedicated their lives to alleviating global education challenges.

The laureate will be announced at the summit’s opening plenary session and receives the WISE Prize medal and $500,000.

For further details visit the WISE website.

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