An important annual global event, the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) convenes each November in Doha, Qatar to explore the future of educational innovation, while also looking at ways to improve current practices on a worldwide scale. The theme of this year’s event was “Investing for Impact: Quality Education for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth”, with sessions and plenaries organised around three main pillars:
- The UN Sustainable Development Goals
- Education and the economy
- Fostering innovation in education systems
Each year, the summit attracts a broad range of individuals across all fields, in both the private and public sectors, and this year was no different. Two speakers of particular note were former Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard and First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, who opened the event.
In her keynote, Obama called for a continued investment in girls’ education as a way to address the current situation in which 62 million girls worldwide are not in school. Drawing on many of her own experiences growing up, her message emphasised a dual focus on resources and investments, as well attitudes, if the problem is to be resolved. The address was part of a continuing campaign organised by the First Lady, including the ‘Let Girls Learn’ initiative launched earlier this year. Gillard participated in two panel discussions: Implementing the Post-2015 Development Agenda: Where Do We Start? and Current Education Financing Mechanisms and Promising Options. Now chair of the Global Partnership for Education, she urged attendees to increase efforts to ensure that children fleeing crisis still receive an education. Her comments focused on the Middle East in particular and accompany calls from others to include education as a standard part of humanitarian aid.
In addition to the sessions, a key highlight of the summit was the presentation of the WISE prize for education, awarded each year to an individual or team as recognition of their outstanding contribution to education. This year’s recipient was Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, known fondly as Afghanistan’s mother of education. Yacoobi won based on her efforts over the last two decades to help rebuild Afghanistan’s educational landscape after being devastated by war.
After three days of networking, workshops and opportunities to collaborate with education professionals from across the globe, the summit closed with a final plenary session recapping the ideas and insights shared under the theme of this year’s event.
For more information about the WISE 2015 Summit, please visit https://www.wise-qatar.org/2015-summit-education-invest-impact.