Hany Torky, the UNDP’s chief technical adviser, said that Arab countries need to improve their education systems, with only the UAE performing impressively in the education sector. As per a UNDP report on Global Knowledge Index, Gulf Cooperation Council members were spending the same proportion of their GDP on education, but only the UAE was making a genuine impact.
Torky was quoted by Arab News as saying: “So far the UAE has appeared as a leader in knowledge not just in the Arab countries but also across Asia. No other country has performed so well as the way UAE has done and continues to do that,”. “The reason can be the quality of teachers, absence of corruption, using resources in the right manner, quality of students. All these factors count for a lot.”
The Global Knowledge Index this year placed the UAE at 19 out of 134 countries. It ranked 13 in secondary education and 20 in higher education. It is produced annually by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Foundation in partnership with the UNDP.
Hany Torky said that the idea of education needed to be redefined and recreated in the region because of recent technological breakthroughs including artificial intelligence, virtual reality and coding.
He further added that we need to use technology to improve social and communication skills. Teachers are irreplaceable, however, robots can aid teachers to perform better and innovatively.
Saudi educationalist Omar Farooqi said that in the times to come, a teacher’s role would change dramatically and they would become more like guides or advisers.
“The problem comes in the form of parents and top-to-bottom implementation of technology in schools,” Farooqi told Arab News, “otherwise if you look at the youth population in the Arab world, it is larger than the adult population. Therefore, these children have grown with technology in their hands and on their fingertips. They are more than willing to embrace it.”
The UAE excelled and superseded others in the adoption of technology and trends faster than any other country in the Arab world. He was of the opinion that technology was crucial revamp in the curriculum of public sector schools.
According to Omar Farooqi, “the Public school sector needs a complete revamp of standards from top to bottom of school operations. Private schools, on the other hand, are heavily geared primarily toward commercial success. Therefore, the quality of education versus tuition fees is not appropriately balanced. Once it is balanced out, then there is cause for optimism for the private sector to take the lead in helping the public system set higher governance standards through strong strategic collaboration.”
Technology is a key driver in improving the social and communication skills of any individual and must be used to empower the youth towards a better future. Investment in a robust, technologically sound educational infrastructure will create a more efficient human resource base and act as a catalyst for national growth.