UAE: His Highness Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development of UAE, advocated for the universal right to an education at India’s inaugural ‘Festival of Education’ held in Jaipur, between the 5th and 6th of August 2017. The festival, organised as a result of the collaboration between the UAE based GEMS Education, the world’s largest private K-12 school education provider, and the Government of Rajasthan, has been incepted to celebrate the future of education, facilitating knowledge exchange and exploring a new world of possibilities for Education in Rajasthan and the “New India” with clear actions and solutions.
An unprecedented event, the festival saw over 100,000 global innovators, academicians, faculty, change-makers, vice chancellors, educationalists, teachers, students, parents, scientists, and policy makers under one roof, united by the same goal – to give shape to the future of education through discourse, discussion and debate.
His Highness Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, UAE as the Guest of Honour and the keynote speaker at the Festival of Education delivered a passionate Keynote address. He highlighted that every child should have the right to an education, citing the key role it plays in the personal and social development of any human being, enabling children to acquire knowledge and skills, to help define their future.
He mentioned that for the proper development of any country, it was imperative that every child, regardless of their gender or social background, should have equal opportunities in exercising their right to learn. Education has the potential of enabling the world to end all economic inequalities and discriminations.
He called upon parents and the entire society to join the governments in ensuring children receive a quality education to provide a greater platform for the overall development of the young next generation.
He asked teachers and educational authorities to adopt creativity and make efforts to ensure education was made accessible to every child even in the remotest parts of the world.
Sheikh Nahyan thanked Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje for her visionary input and ideas behind the of organisation of the festival and said he was confident that the teachers and pupils of Rajasthan were getting acquainted with the novel ideas of providing education, helping revolutionize the scenario of education.
Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje said given the geographical and demographic circumstances of the state of Rajasthan, providing quality education to children in the State was a big challenge. Accepting this challenge, her government brought major changes in the educational set-up and made it learning based. The efforts are helping talented students to obtain opportunities of higher studies in medical, engineering, law, management and other such disciplines. These subjects were basic to the development of humanity, she added.
Teachers are important in the making of any nation and they should apply themselves to the upcoming changes. For this, the government was improving their skills and capabilities by providing them training for new teaching methodologies and syllabi. Realising the fact that degrees alone are not enough for the youth to upsurge in life, the state government had focused efforts on skill training along with basic education. Rajasthan was amongst the top state in India providing skill education to its youth. Also, two new skill focused universities have been established in Rajasthan.
She invited the private sector establishments to invest in the development of basic infrastructure in education.
Union HRD Minister Shri Prakash Javadekar said countries focusing on research and innovation excel in the world. Prosperity based on natural resources had its own constraints of time and only innovations and adaptations could make it everlasting. Praising the state government’s efforts for making school education useful and relevant in Rajasthan, he said that these ideas were being followed by other states. Improving the quality of education could ensure the development of the country and in the recent past the entire nation had discussed and debated the need to reduce the gap between an academic degree and a certificate of skill.
Member of UK’s House of Lords and Deputy Chair of British Council Baroness Usha Prasar commended Rt Hon. Vasundhara Raje for her vision and said that with the steps she undertook, Rajasthan would soon be an education hub. Present and future generations needed skilling along with education and the same was being offered in Rajasthan.
“We are proud to present the Festival of Education. An initiative powered by GEMS for the Government of Rajasthan that is aimed at taking the education ecosystem of the country to the next level. India is now the new intellectual capital of the world and within that Rajasthan is poised to be the knowledge hub,” Amreesh Chandra, Group President, GEMS Education, India said.
On this occasion, Higher and Technical Education Minister Smt. Kiran Maheshwari, Minister of State for School Education Shri Vasudev Devnani, Members of State Cabinet, MPs, MLAs, Chief Secretary Shri Ashok Jain, Founder of Gems Education Shri Sunny Varkey, Vice Chancellors of several universities, educationists, researchers, students and senior officers of the state government were also present.
The Festival of Education entertained and inspired in equal measure and was divided into three experience zones which included Fundamental to capture high-level, thought-leadership panel discussions led by international stalwarts in the field of educational policies and game changers who play a fundamental role in shaping the future of the youth and in turn the future of India. Elemental, themed around Earth, Water, Wind, Fire and Aether to feature conversations by high-profile personalities from all walks of life, derived from these elements, to encapsulate a holistic learning; and Experimental, a special curated zone where governments exhibit technology that will drive the future of education.
Bollywood megastar Akshay Kumar, internationally recognized for enabling passionate tailwind for notable social causes, extended his support for the Festival of Education. Akshay Kumar participated in a panel session with Amreesh Chandra, Group President, GEMS Education, India where he addressed various questions, touching upon the subject of socially conscious film making, including his decision to embrace the world’s first feature film on open-defecation ‘Toilet: Ek Prem Katha’. Answering the question, he said: “I wanted to highlight how a ‘Toilet’ is crucial to India’s health and sanitation, our state of living, even in the 21st century. More importantly I wanted to highlight how this film and the issues we are spotlighting affects the majority of women in this country, the country that we call our Motherland, yet our mothers, wives and sisters quietly and shamefully have to live without toilets and in conditions that should be inexcusable especially in this day and age.”
Akshay Kumar was also praised by Chief Minister of Rajasthan, RH Vasundra Raje for his revolutionary efforts. She said: “For the first time, somebody (in cinema) has bothered about issues close to women’s hearts. It is so very essential to living, and it is a subject that not many people would have touched. But Akshay has taken it, and he has taken it head on, so I need to congratulate him for this amazing job. I don’t think there is a single state today that isn’t fighting to make their states Open Defecation Free. Rajasthan is one of them, and we are hoping that by 2018, we would be able to actually reach this.”
As part of the expert panel sessions that followed on the second day of the festival, the Rt. Honourable Chief Minister of Rajasthan Vasundhara Raje was interviewed by Natasha Mudhar, a prominent business and communications strategist and CEO of Sterling Media, known globally for propagating the United Nations Global Goals to end global poverty by 2030. In the session titled ‘Good Hygiene: The Greatest Gift Every Girl Should Give Herself’, the Chief Minster shared insights on some of the most critical issues surrounding her work in promoting gender equality in the State of Rajasthan and the role that schools can play to achieve this. She said: Schools are a great leveler when it comes to gender. When together at school, girls and boys compete as equals. The Chief Minister highlighted how by ensuring equity, she is taking an initiative to empower girls and women to overcome feudal mindsets.
The Chief Minister has launched several initiatives in the state, tackling a range of issues relating to open-defecation and hygiene including the Water Sanitation & Hygiene Education programme. Her actions extend to installing mirrors in common areas in schools to sensitise children towards tidiness right through to installing sanitary towel napkin dispensers. She highlighted the need for an open conversation about puberty as this was important information for girls in schools. She further added: “We are not only educating young girls about hygiene but also young boys.”
Elaborating her vision for girls in her state of Rajasthan, the Chief Minister answered to a rapturous applause saying: “I want to see my girls sitting here where I sit today”.