Shaping up education models for the future in the UAE

Illegible photo of a visual story telling depicting key themes of the SHAPE Alef online event as drawn live by an artist


This week experts discussed the long-term impacts Covid-19 has had on education at an online tech event in the United Arab Emirates. The event brought together policy-makers, tech gurus, education experts and government representatives, to look at what models of education may look like in the future.

Developing a hybrid educational model for the post-Covid world, was the latest entry in the calendar for SHAPE Education, our ongoing initiative set up with the University of Cambridge Judge Business School. The event was held in collaboration with Alef Education, a leading K-12 education technology company based in the United Arab Emirates. In the opening presentation, Her Excellency, Jameela Al Muhairi, Minister of State for General Education said "The decision to continue to provide education was made easy because of the great investment of His Highness Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum." Her Excellency stated, "The UAE was among the first countries to reopen to the pandemic with resilience and commitment because we took immediate action to close schools in an effort to control the spread of Covid-19 whilst we continued to deliver teaching and learning online."

The invite-only event attracted participants including representatives of the Ministry of Education in the UAE, academic managers, researchers, educational experts and leaders in digital innovation. 

"Hearing first-hand experiences of the long-term impacts of Covid-19 on education is the key to planning for the future," said Nassim Ershaed, Cambridge Assessment English Regional Commercial Director for Europe Middle East and Africa. Cambridge Assessment English is playing a leading role in finding digital learning solutions through online assessments, courses and support materials. Nassim continued, "our mission is to help people learn English and prove their skills to the world and this year’s restrictions have meant we’ve had to find new ways of achieving this. One thing this crisis has taught us is how important it is to be ready and ahead of the curve when it comes to planning for the challenges ahead. We already had many plans in place for new digital learning solutions and the crisis accelerated the need to bring these changes forward. This has enabled us to continue serving English language learners worldwide whilst getting a glimpse into what the future holds for education".

One thing this crisis has taught us is how important it is to be ready and ahead of the curve when it comes to planning for the challenges ahead.

Geoffrey Alphonso, Chief Executive of Alef Education said: "As part of our continued efforts and in line with our company's vision to design new learning experiences that change the way the world is educated, we are truly grateful for the opportunity to partner with Cambridge Assessment to bring a first to the region, a virtual SHAPE Education event. 

The event brought together industry experts and thought leaders to discuss new business models that face the education sector as a whole as a result of Covid-19. The current hybrid model of remote and in-class learning has dramatically changed the way we view technology and has fast-tracked the digital education market at a disruptive rate on a global scale. Geoffrey continued "We were honoured to have Her Excellency Jameela Al Muhairi be part of this event and lead our opening keynote to highlight the importance the UAE government places on education and their forward-thinking vision to drive digital innovation that has positively impacted and supported schools with good connectivity, devices and learning tools during this current pandemic across both the public and private sector". 

The current hybrid model of remote and in-class learning has dramatically changed the way we view technology and has fast-tracked the digital education market at a disruptive rate on a global scale.

The event also included contributions from teachers, parents, learners and school leaders on the impact Covid-19 has had on their experiences personally. At the event Evelina Galaczi, Head of Research Strategy from Cambridge Assessment English spoke from a pedagogical perspective on future educational models in a hybrid world. Geoffrey Alphonso spoke about future business models and Babbel’s Chief Product Officer, Geoff Stead, brought in recent insights on the contribution and potential of EdTech. 

All presentations are available on the SHAPE Education website, along with opportunity areas identified through cross-sector discussion. The conversation continues beyond the event online under #ShapeEducationOnline and you can sign-up for regular updates from the SHAPE team.