Education strategy in GCC needs a revamp, alignment with entrepreneurship – GEMS CEO

Marc McIlhone Education

Questions have been raised on the relevance of what is being taught in schools, the CEO said

Educators need to rethink strategies to prepare students for the future, which is increasingly getting complex due to fast-paced technologies, the CEO of GEMS Education said.

Questions have been raised on the relevance of what is being taught in schools and whether it aligns with the rapid evolution of macro-economic forces, new technologies, and skills required in the market, according to Dino Varkey.

GEMS education operates more than 250 schools in 13 countries. It owns and operates close to 50 schools in the UAE and Qatar. GEMS Education KSA, a joint venture by the General Organization for Social Insurance (GOSI) and GEMS Education, and Hassana, an investment company, acquired Saudi Arabia’s Ma’arif Education and Training Company to have more than 13 campuses across the kingdom and more than 20,000 students enrolled.

To address the changes owing to the Fourth Industrial Revolution, educators ought to come out of the grip of the industrial age and enter into the technological age and teach students to become future-ready, said the CEO of the Dubai-based private education company that operates K-12 schools in six regions globally.

Speaking to Zawya on the sidelines of the launch of The Hub – Centre of Excellence for Entrepreneurship – at GEMS World Academy, Dubai, on Tuesday, Dino said that the world needs young entrepreneurs and The Hub will provide ample opportunities for young students to become entrepreneurs of the future.

The GEMS’s centres of excellence are being established to help realize the full potential of young students, provide them relevant education, mentorship, growth platforms and eventually make them future-ready, he added.

GEMS Education has forged partnerships with the UAE’s Prime Minister Office, Wamda, an integrated entrepreneurship platform, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry to nurture young entrepreneurs, said Varkey, adding that “we should not underestimate the capabilities of young children”.

As a private education firm, GEMS is in a unique position to be more innovative and agile compared with national education systems to provide students with the most relevant curriculum, according to the CEO, who said that even teachers must be trained to be future-ready.

Last year, Dubai’s Kindergarten Starters by GEMS became the world’s first climate change certified school. “Around 300 GEMS teachers are now climate change certified by the United Nations, and we are planning to get this certification done for all teachers at GEMS schools,” he said.

If a teacher of history, mathematics or science possesses UN climate change certification, all courses will have a strong environmental aspect that would help young students understand their fast-changing world better. Overall, GEMS is creating a whole ecosystem that would make students future-ready, he added.

Two teams of young students presented their business ideas during the event targeting United Nations Sustainable Development Goals – poverty and education for the poor.

More than 400 students are involved in 45 social enterprises, said Helen Al Uzaizi, director of Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Environmentalism at GEMS World Academy.

“Initially, the majority of the ideas pitched by the students have a strong charity aspect but with the help of professionals and for the sake of sustainability we are grooming students to become owners of profitable social enterprises,” she said, adding that a fund has been set aside and the businesses will be registered under the Dubai Chambers’ student business scheme.

 

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