Bandar Seri Begawan - Minister of Education Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Kerna Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awg Abu Bakar bin Hj Apong concluded his four-day visit to Qatar hat encompassed a courtesy call on the Minister of Education and Higher Education Qatar, attendance to the World Innovation Summit 14 Education, and visits to two academic institutions.
Pehin Dato Seri Setia (Dr) Hj Awg Abu Bakar's courtesy call on the Minister of Education and Higher Education Qatar last Monday yielded productive discussions on several key issues pertaining to the Memorandum of Understanding in the fields of education cooperation between both countries.
In agreement, both sides will work to step up bilateral ties and cooperation in the fields underlined in the MoU.
On Tuesday, the Minister of Education commenced attendance to the three-day World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE 2012), which was held within the grandeur of the Qatar National Convention Centre.
During the first day of the summit, the Minister of Education joined other education, corporate and social leaders in the opening plenary session. Notably present were Mr Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and Mrs Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO.
The audience of more than 1,000 was officially welcomed by Her Highness Sheikha Moza binti Nasser, Chairperson of the Qatar Foundation, who opened the summit with a keynote address.
Her Highness underlined among others the significance of cultivating a culture for innovation through collaboration, citing several success stories of such endeavours, in particular the Brac Project, winner of last year's WISE Prize.
The theatre was then enthralled by the first forum session with a panel of prominent individuals who discussed this year's theme 'Collaboration for Change.'
The opening session was fittingly concluded with the announcement of the 2012 WISE Prize for Education Laureate, Dr Madhav Chavan, for his achievements in raising the levels of literacy for the less fortunate in India.
Fifteen forum sessions, referred to as 'WISE Debates,' and around 50 open sessions of varying forms of delivery were held throughout the summit.
The Minister of Education attended several of these parallel forum sessions, among others the discussions on Education and the Workforce: Matching Skills and Needs, Education and Culture: Balancing Global and Local, and a workshop entitled Teacher - The Most Important Catalyst for Success and Innovation in Education, in which the Minister of Education participated in group activities.
In the spirit of collaboration, the Minister of Education and delegation also had meetings on the side-line of the summit with several prominent parties. These included meetings with the Dean of Rossier School of Education, University of Southern California, where opportunities for collaboration were explored; and a meeting with Professor Tariq Ramadan from the Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of Oxford, who is also the Director of the Research Centre on Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE) which comes under the umbrella of the Qatar Faculty of Islamic Studies within the Qatar Foundation.
Currently the Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Centre for Islamic Studies (SOASCIS), UBD is exploring strategic collaboration with CILE with regard to joint research into contemporary Islamic issues.
The final day of the summit witnessed a closing plenary session which summarised this year's theme and fittingly set "a platform for further thoughts and innovation in building the future of education.
The WISE Prize Laureate also took to the stage to share inspiring anecdotes and experiences. Dr Madhav Chavan ended his speech with an apt caveat stating that "a child learns through the complete environment ... change and innovation do not necessarily have to start in the future but rather change must start today. It is about time that we start working together and get it done now, we cannot leave it to the future."
The closing session was officially concluded by Sheikh Abdulla bin All Al-Thani who announced of next year's World Innovation Summit for Education to be held from October 29 to 31 in Doha, Qatar.
On the part of Technical and Vocational Education, the key lesson learnt from the WISE Summit reaffirms that key players in various relevant sectors must collaborate to better match skills and needs so as to create greater economic development and better youth employment opportunities.
One of the summit speakers, Andreas Schleicher, who is the Advisor to the Secretary General on Education Policy, OECD, stated that "...the stigma of vocational schools is holding back youth interest in those careers, yet that is the path to a growth area."
In between the WISE Summit, the Minister of Education also managed to conduct visits to the Qatar Community College (QCC) and the Qatar Independent Technical School (QITS).
QCC provides a diverse range of opportunities including college-level courses for academic transfer, critical job training to meet workforce and labour needs, and corporate and continuing education.
According to the President, Professor Ibrahim Saleh Al Naimi, the college provides a second chance or "safety net" to the young people to allow them to get better opportunities in life through getting sustainable employment.
In its efforts towards rebranding the technical and vocational education and training (TVET) system in Brunei, the Ministry of Education is benchmarking its TVET system with those in other countries.
To that end, the Minister of Education of Brunei also took the opportunity to make an educational visit to the Qatar Independent Technical School, the one and only technical high school in Qatar.
The team from the Ministry, of Education Brunei, led by the minister, was able to observe the organisational procedures and training facilities available at the QITS, and to share the experiences and views with their Qatari counterpart on the best practices on the implementation of the TVET system.
QITS also shared several significant insights into the workings of the school, such as the adoption of the Australian TAFE learning system, the programmes on offer and the strong industrial connections upheld by the school.
Qatar Independent Technical School is supported by Qatar Petroleum to produce manpower with the required skills and technical competencies for the oil and gas industry in the country at a vigorous standard defined by the oil and gas sector.
The invaluable experience gained from the Qatari counterpart is timely as a benchmarking exercise for the Ministry of Education towards its endeavour to revamp the TVET system in Brunei Darussalam. It also highlighted the importance of an industry-led system to ensure that TVET system will continue to remain relevant.
The review of the TVET system will be undertaken in close collaboration with important stakeholders within the industrial and government sectors.
--Courtesy of Borneo Bulletin