Radical changes are being welcomed as the world breathes in innovation. With the rampant growth of technology comes the need to prepare the students of today for job opportunities of tomorrow. The UAE education sector is keeping pace – smartboards are replacing blackboards, tablets are replacing textbooks, and everything from the content of education to methods of delivery, timings, and assessments are being reimagined. The potential for businesses catering to the sector is immense.
Dr. Kiran Tangri, the President and Co-founder of Kalebr Americas Corporation, shared her thoughts exclusively with AMEinfo on hidden opportunities in the education sector, the growth of online education, the impact of technology on education, "future-proofing" the education and the importance of women empowerment!
"Education is the foundation upon which a country is built, and it is only through the power of quality education that we can help the next generation of leaders reach their full potential," said Kiran Tangri.
Key trends and hidden opportunities in the GCC education sector
Kiran Tangri: A key trend in the education sector for the UAE and the GCC will be the use of AI to provide customized learning practices, to help save educators’ time in the classroom and to introduce more skilled educators in the classrooms. AI will be the equalizer that will be able to make a good teacher push their boundaries and become great. AI models trained on the characteristics, actions and teaching practices of the best teachers will assist in equalizing the quality, efficacy and personalized focus that the learners need.
A move away from traditional, subject-specific lessons through reworking the concept of the timetable is also a trend that we have noticed in the leading schools that we've worked with. The hidden opportunity here is to effectively utilize time and help teachers as well as learners to adopt innovation and well-being in schools.
Additionally, companies are embracing shorter work days and there is evidence to suggest that employee productivity increases as a result of this concept. It's encouraging to know that this model can thrive in the education sector and help improve teaching and learning: a win-win situation.
Competitive strategies in the face of a growing online education industry
Kiran Tangri: I don’t consider the online education industry a threat. I believe the traditional education industry players can benefit from the endless opportunities that are currently available online.
The biggest challenge in education is for educators to produce content in a social-media friendly format that speaks to the digital natives. We also need to consider equitable access to this content, to equip educators with the tools they need and to hone students’ skills. Content has been the driving force in the traditional education industry model and will continue to be the key differentiator in the online industry model. The latter industry, however, is at the forefront of solving content delivery challenges.
Online delivery models provide a major opportunity to promote effective teaching practices, create powerful content and facilitate masterclasses, nano degrees, and how-to tutorials. Any established or traditional education industry player who welcomes the best-practices of the online education industry will be sustainable and competitive: a force to reckon with. What's more, the physical premises may be transformed into dynamic collaborative learning spaces for teamwork and skill-certification.
Technological advancements revolutionizing the education experience
Kiran Tangri: In the teaching and learning spaces, technology has contributed to making learning more exciting and accessible. It has also allowed educators to create differentiated learning pathways and enabled thought-leaders to share global evidence-based practices through social media.
Technology has also worked wonders in terms of experiential learning or hands-on learning. STEAMathalon is a specific example of how a mindful approach to technology is revolutionizing the education experience. STEAMathalon provides a framework for promoting innovation and well-being through real-world challenges in a competitive, exciting play-based innovation league. It is an initiative borne out of pilot programmes that were implemented in Canada and Finland to promote an inclusive environment similar to future workplace settings, whereby learners tackle real-world challenges and deal with a tangible setup.
These challenges span across fintech, space, sustainability, wearable fashion and health-care to name a few.
Teams collaborate to design and prototype their ideas whilst using AI to power their final product, IoT to receive real-time performance data and AR/VR for enhanced real-time end-user product experience. The ideas could take on various forms: a satellite model, a smart car model, a connected plant habitat, a drone with sensors, autonomous ships model or even well-being clothing. The possibilities are endless. This is the future of education which is being made possible due to technology.
Investment in the UAE education industry
Kiran Tangri: The education sector in UAE is similar to the tech sector in San Francisco: it's constantly evolving. In many ways, it is like the Silicon Valley for education.
This is possible thanks to the investor-friendly policies from the government, the ease of operating businesses, accessible regulatory bodies and decision makers, and finally, close proximity to high-growth markets. What also helps is a large number of private schools in the region that are willing and able to try innovative solutions, implement the best practices and embody the true spirit of the nation.
Simply put, the UAE is definitely a prime location if you are in the education sector.
Kiran Tangri: It is imperative. We must acknowledge that in the future, it will become incredibly challenging to know everything or stay in-step with all the changes around us. We must ask ourselves: how quickly can we learn, how well can we work in groups and how well can we manage learning fatigue?
In order to nurture and grow human capital for sustainable growth in the future, we must invest in honing future trade-specific skills in AI, IoT, Blockchain, VR, quantum computing or prevalent technology of the time. We must also improve 21st century skills such as collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and. communication.
Finally, we must also focus on self-care and well-being. This will help us immensely. We'll be able to contribute directly to the knowledge-based economies by excelling in group-based projects and effectively collaborating with each other. We'll also be equipped with a fast learning curve and be able to avoid work-related fatigue or burnout.
The future is uncertain, unseen. That doesn't mean we can't prepare for it. We must future-proof our young learners and prepare the next generation workforce for whatever lies ahead.
Women in leadership
Kiran Tangri: It is crucial. We are increasingly seeing female leaders inspire people around the world. They are now leading in positions that were previously reserved for men. New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, Vogue's iconic editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, General Motors’ CEO Mary T. Barra, filmmaker Patty Jenkins, and Indian entrepreneur Nita Ambani are remarkable female leaders representing diverse sectors across the globe.
It is vital for young women to have a female role model as much as it is imperative for young males to be accustomed to women in a position of power. It fosters equality, respect, and a level playing field. Through Kalebr Americas Corporation, we ensure our content, products, and organizational practices reflect these principles and values, always.