Telecom technology enabled children to out-do us in knowledge, says H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed.

Technology has re-shaped education and helped change teachers’ tasks and their relations with students, said H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.

Addressing an audience of more than 900 teachers and experts from 80 countries around the globe, Sheikh Abdullah emphasised the importance of adapting teaching methods and curricula to the demands of the 21st century.

“The telecommunication revolution has enabled our children to out-do us in knowledge and in the use of its modern tools,” Sheikh Abdullah added.

In his keynote speech at the opening of the Qudwa 2017 Global Teachers’ Forum, he said, “In this age, teachers’ tasks have witnessed a tremendous transformation. The teacher is now required to be more of a conversationalist to the student and a partner in their experiments and innovative quests.”

Sheikh Abdullah stated, “How many times have you sought your children’s help to operate or fix an appliance or instrument at home? How many times have your children helped you to acquire a new skill to deal with your smartphone, and when was the last time you felt that you taught your children something new in life? They know everything, most of us will answer, but this is no joke. They do know many things.”

“We are living in an era where old concepts are fading away and new ones are continuing to emerge on a daily basis. Only a few decades ago, we couldn’t have imagined that e-currency would likely replace paper currency, that text messages and emails would substitute traditional postal services. Unfortunately, it seems that curricula have not kept pace with the times.”

“As apps, search engines and smartphones continue to become more intertwined with our daily lives, traditional curricula will no longer be relevant. It is, therefore, critical that we come together to promote a new concept of education, centred around recent transformations in society,” he said.

Sheikh Abdullah stressed, “At home, students will spend time reading, while in school, they will put what they learnt from their reading into practice. They will spend from three to four, or maybe five hours in school, which will look like a sports or an art club.

“It is the end of an era for memorising lessons. It is useless do that when you already have Google, Wikipedia and smartphones. The curriculum will gradually embed itself into YouTube and other apps for knowledge and education.”

“Let me tell you, our children today not only know more than we knew when we were their age but more than we know now. The ability of students to learn has increased dramatically with a world of information today available at their fingertips via tablets, computers and smartphones. In order to remain relevant, teachers must act as mentors that provide students with the tools they need to become life-long learners who are able to constantly reinvent themselves,” he added.

On the role of a teacher, Sheikh Abdullah said, “Let us be honest, a teachers’ role will diminish in the face of technology and artificial intelligence. The teachers who wish to continue that role should change into mentors. Mentoring means that we get the experience from real life and not only from books.

“Today, I have come as a father would, to tell you that the world outside our school walls looks very different from the world we grew up in. We should work together to understand this generation and live up to the responsibilities entrusted to us as educationists of the 21st century.”

“You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth,” he said, in conclusion, quoting Khalil Gibran.

Held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, Qudwa 2017 runs on 7th and 8th October at the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi.

Source: UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs