MENA region tops global education spending
- United Arab Emirates: Monday, January 28 - 2013 at 09:14
- PRESS RELEASE
An unprecedented surge in public expenditure on education reforms throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) will continue in 2013, as spending takes bigger share of government spending.
In the UAE, one of the more significant investments made by the government went towards launching the Smart Learning Initiative - part of the UAE's Vision 2021 - which will help shape a new learning environment in public schools in the Emirates, through the launch of 'smart classes' that will provide every student with an electronic tablet and access to high speed 4G networks.
In support of this far-reaching initiative, the Gulf Educational Supplies and Solutions (GESS) and the Ministry of Education's Global Education Forum have adopted the theme "Smart Learning and Technological Advances in Education". The region's leading educational exhibition is set to take place between the 5th and 7th of March 2013, at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
And in recognition of the exhibition's important contributions to the education sector in the UAE and the rest of the region, organisers proudly announced that GESS and GEF have received the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
"GESS and GEF have both become an important platform for sharing global best practices in education reform as well as highlighting significant trends, specifically the technological advances, that have an impact on the development and future of teaching and learning in the region," said HE Humaid Al Qatami, who underscored the important role education plays in the continued progress of the UAE.
Al Qatami extended his appreciated for the commitment of the country's leadership towards education reforms, in particular, HH Khalifa Bin Zayed, President of the UAE, and HH Mohammad Bin Rashed, Vice President & Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, and their brothers, members of the executive council whose support have led to the event's success for the past five years.
The Minister also re-iterated the Ministry's new strategy and direction - that is to invest resources on the Information Technology and Communications infrastructure in the education sector to enhance its develop and raise its standards to globally competitive levels. He also alluded to the prominence and significance of both GEF and GESS as annual fixtures in the education calendar necessary to achieving the nation's development goals by providing the opportunity for discussion and knowledge exchange between education experts and decision makers on the one hand and the educators in the field on the other hand, thereby introducing the most recent advances and solutions in education technology and implementing them for the purpose of modernizing the country's education systems.
Commenting on the forum and exhibition, HE Fawziya Hasan Bin Gharib, Deputy Minister and Secretary General of the Forum said, "The event comes at a time, when the rapid changes of globalization and the demands of a knowledge economy are upon us. The Smart Learning Initiative has become essential and necessary for us to achieve nation-wide advancement on a regional and global scale."
On the part of GESS organisers, Matt Thompson, Project Director, F&E Group, said, "This year promises to be an exciting time for the education sector throughout the region as governments allocate more resources for education reforms across the board. In anticipation of comprehensive reforms which will involved technology and smart learning, we developed a programme that will help various stakeholders to create and implement initiatives that will leverage technology to raise the quality of education in this part of the world."
Elsewhere in the region, the Saudi Arabian government appropriated $40bn to education and training in 2011 - investment in human capital has become a top priority for the Saudi Government, as spending on education has more than tripled since 2000. The budget includes plans to build 610 new schools in addition to the 3,200 already under construction.
Meanwhile, Bahrain has increased its commitment to education through the National Project to Develop Education and Training and a focus on E-learning is a cornerstone of the Schools Improvements Project (SIP). In Kuwait, the Ministry of Education is focusing development efforts on reforming teaching methods and the national curriculum; and is likewise promoting the effective use of information and communications technology in the classroom.
Massive budget increases are boosting education reforms in Oman, thanks to an $800m budget increase for education last year whereas Qatar underscored its desire to improve quality of education when it made a huge allocation of $6.04bn to its education budget last year, according to MEED. It spends about 4.1% of its GDP on education which is the highest in the region.
As a testament to the growing interest in education within and outside the sector, the 2012 edition of the exhibition saw a dramatic increase in visitors and increased footfall - attendance was up 20% from the previous show with 6,000 education professionals from over 60 countries attending. "GESS 2012 recorded its highest ever participation by exhibitors, with over 250 businesses and organisations from more than 30 countries," Thompson said.
Last year, GESS and GEF attracted 6,000 key decision makers and ministerial delegations from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain. This includes a cross section of teachers, heads of department and heads of school as well as procurement managers, school owners and bursars. Due to the high volume of attendees expected to come this year, visitors are encouraged to register for free at www.gesseducation.com.
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