Marking the end of a highly disruptive and unprecedented year, RewirEdX, a virtual conference on education to explore and reflect on the experiences of key stakeholders from the world of education and learning, concluded today with a clear vision going forward: to foster increased collaboration and boost connectivity for education, learning and livelihoods. RewirEdX, the first convening by RewirEd, a collaboration to rewire the future of education between Dubai Cares, Expo 2020 Dubai and the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, took place during the pre-Expo 2020 Dubai Knowledge and Learning Week.
The virtual conference hosted ministers of education, high profile speakers and panellists from U.N agencies, international NGOs, academia, as well as representatives from the public and private sector from around the world who were driving the conversation. The pre-Expo 2020 Dubai Knowledge and Learning Week was hosted this week in association with Dubai Cares.
RewirEdX kickstarted the 1-year countdown to RewirEd Summit, a 3-day flagship global education summit taking place in person at Expo 2020 Dubai site on 12 - 14 December 2021. RewirEdX featured a clear message by global education leaders on the importance of education as a fundamental pillar for building back and building forward a better post-pandemic world. A clear call to action was made regarding education financing and the need for the international community to improve collaboration and drive commitments towards education at key upcoming global gatherings such as the G7, G20, World Economic Forum (WEF) and the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) replenishment taking place next year.
During the virtual conference, Dubai Cares together with key global players in the sector, identified connectivity as a critical enabling factor to ensure learning can continue – even in times of crisis and school closures. Subsequently, boosting connectivity and closing the digital divide across the world will serve as a central pillar of Expo 2020 Dubai’s collaboration with Dubai Cares, as both organisations seek to rewire education for a future that is both prosperous and sustainable for all. Central to this effort is the unveiling of ‘The Declaration on the Right on Connectivity for Learning and Livelihoods’ which aims to mobilize both public and private sector support for increased connectivity for learning and livelihoods globally. The declaration will build a shared understanding of the importance of, and the right to, connectivity for education. It will also outline a clear call for action to address key barriers to connectivity; availability, affordability and usability.
Participants in RewirEdX voiced concerns about the insufficient international coordination currently and emphasized the need for more multilateral financing, not just bilateral financing of aid projects to advance connectivity for learning. A significant alarm was raised over the likelihood of losing USD 150 billion from education budgets globally over the next year as a result of the economic downturn from COVID-19. Participants also expressed the need for a recovery initiative that is globally led with education at its core.
Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy, Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai Bureau and UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation, said: “Education reform and innovation is more than a necessity, it is an urgent priority. We must bring the education sector into the digital world with alacrity and deep impact, in a way that places our children and youth first but also brings benefits for the economy and society as a whole. The Declaration on the Right on Connectivity for Learning and Livelihoods will mobilise the public and private sector to support increased connectivity, allowing us to bridge social and economic gaps to create equality of education for all.
The potential of technology and digitization to drive innovation in classrooms and empower teachers to facilitate a better learning experience also featured prominently throughout the 2 days. However, it remained clear that technology alone is no magic bullet that ensures equitable access to learning for all children and youth.
Her Excellency Reem Al Hashimy added: “Looking forward, Expo 2020 Dubai is proud to collaborate with Dubai Cares to host RewirEd Summit, which will reshape the global conversation on education, pushing the boundaries of current thinking and fostering cooperation among new allies from across different sectors, and by governments, global education stakeholders, strategic partners, and the private sector.”
During her participation in the high-level opening panel on the impact of COVID-19 on education, H.E. Lucia Azzolina, Italian Minister of Public Education shared Italy’s strong commitment towards multilateralism and reasserted Italy’s plans to continue to support knowledge sharing in all areas of education, particularly during the Italian presidency of the G20.
His Excellency Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer at Dubai Cares and Member of its Board, said: “COVID-19 has so clearly revealed our strengths and weaknesses as societies, and has further amplified existing vulnerabilities in our structures, particularly across the education sector. RewirEdX, our first RewirEd convening, has given us all an opportunity to come together to take bold steps now, to continue shining the light on the fundamental importance of resilient, quality education systems fit for the future and amplify the message that the world needs to hear: We need education – the great equalizer – now more than ever. This week’s summit was just the beginning, RewirEd will continue on its journey to Expo 2020 Dubai and beyond, to unlock new solutions and innovations for the future, driven by collaboration and partnerships.”
Speaking about the importance of digital connectivity for societal resilience and business continuity in times of crisis, Al Gurg added, “Connectivity is central to ensuring resilience, self-reliance and a future of opportunities for all. Through our partnership with UNESCO and UNICEF towards a Declaration on the Right to Connectivity for Learning and Livelihoods, we hope to bring the power of meaningful connectivity to fast-track children and young people's access to educational resources and opportunities, so they are equipped with the digital resources they need and are empowered to take control of their own lives.”
RewirEdX also delivered on its promise to push boundaries and disrupt systems by unveiling emerging RewirEd Provocations, a series of co-designed radical ideas to help move current thinking from the usual to the unusual and address systemic, complex, and structural challenges impacting the education system. RewirEd Provocations, hosted in partnership with Radicle, a Dubai-based futures lab, offer an opportunity to collectively identify and understand the variety of perspectives and systemic shifts needed to meaningfully co-create a better way forward for education.
Julia Gillard, Chair of the Board of Directors of the Global Partnership for Education and former Prime Minister of Australia said: “Covid-19 has disrupted education at an unprecedented scale. But the pandemic has also created opportunities to drive global recovery by investing in education. Concerted efforts, spurred by global education leaders brought together at RewiredX, must be coordinated and accelerated so that education delivers for the most marginalized children, especially girls, and helps prepare the next generation for the future challenges of an increasingly uncertain world.”
Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum (WEF), said: “The disruption caused by the combination of automation and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need to rethink education, skills and lifelong learning systems. Yet efforts to support those affected by the current pandemic lag behind the speed of disruption. RewirEd provides an opportunity to build momentum around a new learning agenda as we begin to build a new economy that provides greater opportunity, social mobility, and equality for all.”
“The pandemic will increase the share of children who cannot read and understand a simple text by age 10 – called Learning Poverty – by 10 percentage points from 53% to 63% [in developing countries]. Through RewirEd, we need bolder action to hire, support and manage teachers, and train them in blended and remedial learning and in using technology, to help them teach effectively. This requires a strong political commitment from governments so that all children truly learn with joy, rigor, and purpose, everywhere”, Mamta Murthi, Vice President, Human Development, World Bank
As part of its pre-Expo events programme, Expo 2020 Dubai hosted the Knowledge and Learning Week on 15-16 December 2020, delivered in collaboration with Dubai Cares. The event brought together Expo's international participants, members of the Expo family and education experts to analyse how knowledge can propel a global community to innovate for a better future for all – helping push further than ever before in the realms of science, medicine, sustainability, technology and more.
Expo 2020 will bring together more than 200 participants, including nations, government entities, educational establishments and the private sector, with the shared purpose of solving some of the world’s greatest challenges. The first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, it will run from 1 October 2021 until 31 March 2022.