BETT Middle East 2017 kicks off in Abu-Dhabi
ABU-DHABI: The two-day ‘BETT Middle East 2017 Expo’ kicked off yesterday at Dusit Thani Hotel in the Emirati capital. BETT is the Middle East’s leading global technology exhibition and congress series held in partnership with the leading platform and productivity company Microsoft and the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC). The event brings together the region’s education community of over 1,200 educators from 35 different countries as well as speakers from all over the world.
Eve Harper, Event Director of BETT Middle East, welcomed delegates at the opening ceremony held at the hotel ballroom. “BETT Middle East 2017 has us especially excited to be bringing a line-up of student speakers to the Learn Live program. From the young inventor showcase, where you can hear from the next generation of entrepreneurs to our happiness panel, where students will be sharing the initiatives they are taking to promote positivity in schools – this year allows attendees to hear from the people who matter most and get to know what inspires them,” he said.
Anthony Salcito, Vice President Worldwide Education at Microsoft, focused his remarks on the digital transformation of education to empower student success. He said for several decades, Microsoft has worked with institutions and educators around the world, and gained a deep understanding of how technology in schools can transform the learning experience.
“We continue to bring our leading-edge products, services and programs to bear on this challenge, always taking into account that technology is not the lone agent in such transformations, and can even complicate or slow down the process if not implemented with due diligence. We recommend that education leaders take a curriculum-focused approach to technology adoption, keeping in mind their education goals and then integrate those technologies that facilitate tangible benefits for students and teachers,” he added.
Philip Parham, British Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, also thanked the collaborative effort with Microsoft to bring about changes in the world of education. “BETT ME 2017 conference is celebrated all over the world, and it’s all about creating a better future by transforming education. This is crucial to humanity as a whole,” he said.
“The strength of the education system in the UK is spreading throughout the world and also here in the UAE. This is deep and positive with the thousands of Britons working here in the UAE. In fact, UAE is the fourth largest partner of the UK economically, outside Europe. These are very striking statistics, and our cooperation starts from prosperity to safety and education. This is one of the keys to our steady growing partnership with the UAE,” he said.
“The British curriculum is a very strong brand here in the UAE – one in every four children in Abu Dhabi is involved in the UK curriculum. There are 12 British universities here and education is crucial to this part of the world, as crucial indeed to most of the countries around the world. Technology is the key enabler of this in today’s high-tech world,” he noted.
Dr Ali Rashid Al-Nuaimi, Director General of ADEC, congratulated the organizer for its second successful venture. “I would like to welcome all the delegates from all over the world – it is an honor and great privilege for me to be welcoming you and speak on behalf of Sheikh Hassa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Vice Chair of ADEC,” he said.
“We are talking here on behalf of every country in the Middle East region – we are happy to see all the changes happening around. We are educators and we bear the responsibility for the changes within our society. The suffering that we witness in the region was because the governments did not spend or pay attention to education. When you compare the education we’ve got in the region to say, Singapore and South Korea, we are behind, while in fact 50 years ago, we were ahead of them. Because they spent money on educating their children and the next generations. They put proper resources and created an educational system that will eventually help the next generation,” he said.
“Whatever we do now, the education system will have a huge impact on the generations to come. Education is not about the high-tech product – what we need is more than that. We need smart educators, smart students and smart systems. We cannot buy them anywhere. Innovation now is a must – whatever we have now in our classrooms, in five years it will be obsolete. If we are not prepared, our schools/countries will be left behind. Education is the best investment, and we want to put proper resources now to have a future for the coming generations,” he said.
Microsoft also released the findings from an education survey that revealed that 89 percent of educators believe their school leaders have a clearer vision of how to use technology for the enhancement of the classroom experience. In the same survey, 50 percent of educators reported that technology was used in their institution, and majority said, virtual collaboration, working with other remotely was a key skill required for students. The Microsoft collaboration with BETT Middle East 2017 introduced educators in the region and beyond to generational leaps in classroom-enhancing technologies and methodologies.
By Ben Garcia, Staff Writer