By Rafiq Vayani
DUBAI: The seventh annual Global Education & Skills Forum (GESF 2019), a Varkey Foundation initiative, to be staged at The Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai, UAE on Saturday 23 – Sunday 24 March 2019, will focus on the theme of ‘Who is changing the world?’
GESF 2019, will once again feature leading personalities from the public, private, social, entertainment and sports arenas, including over five former Presidents and Prime Ministers and 40 Education Ministers. This year, they will be joined by a new generation of change-makers, including grassroots activists, philanthropists, tech developers and many more, that are shaping the world with new voices, new ideas and new technologies.
Among the key speakers spearheading sessions are Julius Maada Bio, President of Sierra Leone, Juan Manuel Santos, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former President of Colombia; Bana al-Abed, the Syrian schoolgirl whose moving Twitter messages brought home to the world the horror of the siege of Aleppo; and Matteo Renzi, former Prime Minister of Italy.
Other change-makers include Steven Pinker, the world renowned Canadian psychologist, Mark Pollock, the first blind man to run to the South Pole, Kennedy ODede, a social entrepreneur that combats urban poverty and gender equality in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya and Mina Guli, a passionate water advocate and ultra runner.
Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Global Education & Skills Forum, said that “By sharing the stories of grassroots activists, campaigners, philanthropists, tech developers and many more, we can have a much smarter debate about how to solve challenges on a global scale.
“Our fervent hope is that education leaders gathered at GESF 2019 will be able to learn from these pioneers to help make the change needed to give every child their birthright: a good education”.
GESF 2019 will also, once again, host the Next Billion Prize, which recognizes leading edtech startups making an impact on education in low income and emerging economies. Notable tech speakers include the founders of billion dollar edtech ‘unicorns’ such as Byju’s, India’s most popular learning education app with over 30 million downloads and 17zuoy, the Chinese multiplatform homework solution. Education Ministers will also meet to discuss how they can accelerate edtech adoption in developing countries.
Learning Science will be a big theme of this year’s conference with the Jacobs Foundation presenting the very latest findings on the science of teaching and learning, discussing topics such as ‘teens and smartphones’ and ‘sleep and learning’.
GESF 2019 is also proud to he holding its first Philanthropy Summit, which will see over 50 grant making foundations from around the world, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dubai Cares, Co-impact and the Lemann Foundation, meeting to share ideas on how to give every child access to a quality education.
The climax of the GESF will be the award ceremony of the US $1 million Global Teacher Prize 2019 on Sunday 24th March 2019. This is the fifth time the prize will be awarded to one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.
And for the very first time, on the eve of the Global Teacher Prize ceremony, the Varkey Foundation will hold ‘The Assembly: A Global Teacher Prize Concert’ as a joyful ‘thank you’ to teachers all around the world for the unsung work they do every day. Thousand of people, including the Global Teacher Prize finalists, will join Little Mix, who are headlining the event, together with Rita Ora and Liam Payne, at Dubai Media City Amphitheatre in paying tribute to one of the world’s most important professions.