Complex Made Simple

Investors in Middle East education demand more innovative models of schooling

Major influencers in education urge investors to keep pace with international competition ahead of Education Investment MENA Conference in Dubai

Investors in Middle East education are opting to finance the more innovative models of schooling, placing a demand on the sector to adapt global models to best fit local requirements.

Ashwin Assomull, Managing Director of Parthenon-EY and a speaker at the upcoming Education Investment MENA conference, has said that “Many investors have standard motivations of strong financial returns when choosing where to lend support, but that innovation is now a vital part of the decision making process.”

Speaking ahead of his conference seminar, ‘Global and Regional Investment Trends in Education’, he said, “From affordable schooling to new models of student financing, investors are now considering how to bring innovative models to the Middle East. Globally, the popular sector for discussion is education technology, but this has not gained much traction yet in the Middle East.”

Opening on Sunday 15 November with a one-day Summit – Establishing a Presence in MENA, the two-day Education Investment MENA Forum will run from 16-17 November at the Ritz Carlton Hotel, DIFC, Dubai, followed by a series of seminars and site visits on 18 and 19 November.

Assomull added, “Education in the region has proven to be a stable sector, despite market fluctuations; during the economic downturn in 2008, for instance, we saw K-12 enrolments grow, and we expect to continue to witness growth here as governments focus on diversifying away from oil and focus on bringing in more expatriates. The sector does have many beneficial characteristics for investments – especially K-12 and higher education – including negative working capital, long-term revenue visibility, and demand that is greater than the supply.”

Victor Saad, Vice President of SABIS®, a global education network that operates schools in 16 countries on four continents, focused on the factors that lead to innovation. He said, “This event is key to advancing the goals of a high quality education in the region. By promoting a free market approach to education, those who want to stay ahead will have to constantly innovate and improve what they offer to their students if they are to remain viable choices for parents.”

A series of free to attend Ed-Tech seminars feature on Monday 16 and Tuesday 17 November for delegates to explore the latest innovations which can transform teaching methods. Topics include getting user buy-in for technology strategies, using digital education videos as a tool for improved learning outcomes, creating a collaborative teaching and learning environment, and best practice in pilot projects for technology adoption.

Professor Lance de Masi, President of American University in Dubai and another speaker at the Education Investment MENA conference highlighted the challenges in reform that the sector is currently facing. He commented, “Educators everywhere are struggling with meeting the needs of 21st century learners and the UAE is no exception. There is a lot of room for improvement at all levels. Teaching must be more facilitation-based; technology needs to be used in ways that have been empirically proven to enhance learning; curricula and derived learning outcomes must be brought to align with society’s expectations and accommodation of individual learning styles.”

Education Investment MENA is held in partnership with HUMANSOFT and supported by Gold sponsors Ryan International Group of Institutions, SABIS®, Parthenon-EY and GlobalEdu, and Silver sponsors, Clyde & Co, Colliers International, Cognition Education and ACS International Schools.