Interview with Rhona Greenhill, Conference Producer, GESS 2014
Through a carefully planned, comprehensive agenda, Rhona Greenhill is helping education stakeholders in the region learn from leading global experts and academic best practices to raise the bar for teaching and learning in the Gulf.
How does GESS contribute to the development of education in the GCC?
GESS connects various education stakeholders in the biggest platform of its kind in the Middle East - essentially enabling education suppliers and solutions providers direct access to decision makers in schools, government ministries and other institutions that require their services.
Along with the exhibition, we also host the Global Education Forum (GEF) which offers local and international insights on challenges and opportunities confronting the education sector throughout the Middle East. It provides an extensive educational programme to help teachers, educators and academics of all levels develop their skills, gain insight from international experts and take home some practical teaching methods. GEF offers a wide range of seminars, exhibitor workshops, abstract sessions and keynote presentations, all under the theme of technology in education.
Every year the theme changes to reflect the most pressing issues affecting the education industry. Last year, for instance, the focus was on smart learning as governments throughout the Gulf are accelerating their educational development through the adoption of digital and smart learning platforms and tools.
One of the key drivers for the widespread adoption of smart learning tools is the capability of the teachers to incorporate smart learning tools and technologies in classroom instruction. For this reason, we gathered the world’s leading experts on the use of mobile learning devices in teaching at last year’s event.
For 2014, the theme is "Education and the 21st Century: Skills, Opportunities and Challenges" for which we have put together a comprehensive line up of speaker presentations and panel discussions that will help education decision-makers in this part of the world to align youth training and development with the skills and opportunities required by the job market. As youth unemployment has been a nagging concern for the region, the ultimate goal is to equip young people with the right skills to find employment and contribute to the long-term development of the region through world-class education.
Can you give us a preview of the kind of presentations of the speakers confirmed for the forum?
As in every year, we provide the most comprehensive line up of experts who will be sharing their insights with GESS visitors and guests. We work closely with the UAE’s Ministry of Education to ensure it is something that is truly relevant for the needs of teachers, academics and other stakeholders in the UAE and the rest of the Gulf region. For this reason, we have the Education Ministers Session, a gathering of leading government authorities across the Gulf states where issues and challenges are comprehensively discussed. It has also served as a platform to announce initiatives currently being undertaking or are in the pipeline for execution by education ministries throughout the region.
The current line up of confirmed speakers so far is live on the show website at www.gesseducation.com, which features the topics, speakers and schedule in a user-friendly manner that allows visitors to navigate the agenda easily in terms of either topic or speaker of interest.
Our keynote speakers are some of the most sought after thought leaders in education who will provide insights on career and college readiness and continuing education; others will tackle how to become a star in the profession, or getting skilled for life as well as innovative learning in a changing and increasingly connected world.
As youth unemployment is such a key issue throughout the MENA region, we have Fathima Dada, CEO, Pearson Southern Africa delivering a keynote speech on 21st Century Skills and College and Career readiness: Thoughts Around Indicators of Efficacy which calls for adopting 21st century skills - such as taking a collaborative and creative approach to problem solving - to help deliver education that young people, education providers and employers all have equal confidence in.
The most profound step in Bringing Education to Life, the theme for the 7th edition of GESS, is also the one that many teachers find the hardest - handing back the entire process of learning to the student. This intriguing session hopes to answer the question, Why do we go to school+ Ewan McIntosh explains how, with impactful stories from schools he has worked with in Asia, Australia, Europe and North America, where students really understand why they go to school.
Education has become a key focus of GCC governments, underscoring its place as the foundation of long-term competitiveness and development. As such the role of teachers and academics are put on the spotlight. In DNA of 21st Century Educators, Professor Dr Mohamed Amin Embi, Deputy Director (e-learning), Faculty of Education, UKM, National University of Malaysia, will help identify the necessary ingredients (DNA) needed by the educators to make teaching and learning not only effective but also relevant to the ever growing challenges of preparing our students to function in tomorrow’s world.
We also have a series of sessions for which educators can get CPD accreditation, so attending the exhibition is a truly worthwhile experience in terms not just of learning but also of advancing one’s career professionally through accreditation.
We are also putting the spotlight on special needs education with a series of sessions dedicated to this important issue; as well as mobile learning workshops which help educators keep in trend with the latest trends and gadgets currently revolutionising the education sector. Also back by popular demand is the David Hodgson with his NLP workshops.
Other than the CPD sessions, the workshops, forums, presentations are all free to attend. I would encourage everyone to register online as interest has been massive and seats limited.
Finally, for the first time in GESS, the Research for Learning (RfL) sessions will explore how evidence-based research can be transformed into realistic classroom practice.
What else is new this year?
For the first time, GESS will be hosting its first GESS Education Awards (GEA) which will recognise exceptional companies, schools and individuals who are making outstanding contributions to the growth of the education sector in the Gulf.
To be held on 5th March 2014 on the second day of GESS, the GEAs will celebrate outstanding success for the suppliers and teaching professionals of the education sector throughout the Middle East. It will highlight and reward the quality and diversity of educational products, resources, services and people as well as the best educational establishments and the most dedicated members of the teaching profession.
GEA aims to encourage the raising of educational services & product standards throughout the industry and aims to be recognised throughout the sector as the accolade of excellence. The GEA are broken down into two sections those for Suppliers and/or distributors and those for Teachers, Schools and Educational Professionals.
When is the exhibition going to be held?
GESS 2014 is scheduled on March 4 to 6 at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Timings are from 10am to 6pm on the first two days, and from 10am to 4pm on the final day of the exhibition.
It is free to visit and is designed for all educational professionals. Whether you are a head teacher, head of procurement, head of department, dean, professor, lecturer, teacher or just involved in education, you will have the opportunity to view demonstrations of some of the most innovative exhibits from the leading suppliers to the global education market.