Sharing knowledge with the community is very important to Madinat Zayed and Ruwais Higher Colleges of Technology, who see it as part of their role in the Western Region to innovate and inspire.
This week students from Grade 12 visited the colleges, along with their teachers to hear about ways of preparing future Arab generations for the coming knowledge society.
Ghassan Frache, Chair of Information Technology and Engineering, addressed the students with a question: should we be teaching the future generation, or should we be learning from them?
Given recent developments in the Middle East, should we be listening and directing the energies of young people in more positive, constructive directions. Ghassan explored recent research that shows that Arab youth lack the skills required to take advantage of the knowledge society and asked what can be done to address this.
Knowledge, information and theories are often presented as indisputable facts. Knowledge is not tested, questioned or explored. In order to thrive in an economy where facts are easy to find on the internet, where students can interact globally with other students and share information, students need to be enabled to experiment, follow ideas that inspire them and use the knowledge they have gained to create something new.
The students were very engaged with the session, as were the teachers who went away with lots of ideas about how to change the learning environment in their classrooms, bringing in more team work and using and applying of knowledge, allowing students to experience as well as learn, building up their ability and willingness to act on what they have learnt by removing barriers and obstacles and offering incentives to innovate, to think about what they have learnt and add to it.
“We need to do this now,” said one of the students. “I think this is such an exciting vision.”
The vision proposed for preparing future generations to build a knowledge society is based on the tight correlation between three main pillars, skills, values and enabling.
Unfortunately at the moment reports and studies confirm that most Arab families do not provide an appropriate social environment to mobilize the creative capabilities of the young and uncomfortable as it is to hear this, it needs to be addressed.
Cognitive structure and social structure are intertwined in the education system. These two structures control to a great extent the whole of society’s progress and renaissance. There is an urgent need to lay a new educational foundation in the Arab region, and to prepare and equip future generations to make the most of the knowledge society.
“I want the rest of our staff to hear this,” said one of the teachers. “I am very inspired by what I have heard.”
The next step in this initiative came with an invitation to visit a local school to speak with all staff about the issues raised and the solutions found, thus enabling Al Gharbia to make the most of the bright future forecast for the Region.