Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna concluded her visit to the United Arab Emirates yesterday, where cooperation in general education, higher education and research were discussed with university rectors, researchers, heads of schools and representatives of Estonian EdTech companies. It is the first high-level visit to the Gulf region concerning education.
“We found many new fields for cooperation, for example, the ministers and local universities were highly interested in developing personalised medicine in the University of Tartu, the FinEst programme of Tallinn University of Technology as well as our space exploration activities and teacher training,” says Minister Liina Kersna.
On Sunday, 12 December, Minister Kersna and the rectors met with Sarah Bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology in the government of the United Arab Emirates, with whom they discussed cooperation in the development of personalalised medicine, the aerospace industry and the topic of smart city.
On Monday, 13 December, at the high-level RewirEd summit, Minister of Education and Research Liina Kersna discussed the topic of educational innovation with the education ministers of Italy, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia and India.
According to the minister, the education of the future sees a more personal approach, which requires personal solutions for studying and teaching. Therefore, it is important to cooperate with educational technology companies. According to the minister, every innovation, including educational innovation, requires a change in thinking and this takes time.
On Monday afternoon, Minister Liina Kersna met with Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education of the United Arab Emirates, with whom she discussed teacher training and the future challenges of education. The ministers signed a cooperation agreement on education between Estonia and the United Arab Emirates in order to facilitate and foster cooperation and information exchange in the areas of research and education. “Minister Al Hammadi was very interested in the activities of Rakett 69 in popularising natural sciences and in the educational camps that were the result of cooperation between Ahhaa and Rakett 69 Science Studio,” says Kersna.
The minister also met with Aymen Almoayyed, Minister of Youth and Sports Affairs, and the local Estonian community at the EXPO Estonia Pavilion.
On the second day of the EXPO education week, a business forum took place that focused on future solutions and was opened with a speech by the Minister of Education and Research. The minister emphasised that we must not forget how important it is to provide all children equal access to high-quality education. “Technology can help us with the study gaps created by coronavirus and distance learning,” says the minister. “Smart studying and teaching devices and methods can help us.”
“I am strong believer that the cooperation between the state and the private sector helps to study in a smarter way,” Minister Kersna notes in her opening speech. “Being the education minister of digi-native country – Estonia, I can assure you, that education technology, EdTech companies are not a threat to traditional learning and teaching, but enablers to many. We can do things as we are used but be open to new.”
The heads of schools and universities, representatives of the public sector and businesses came to listen the ReWirED business forum organised by Estonia and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. Representative of EdTech Estonia Märt Aro and Special Envoy of Education in Finland Marjaana Sall participated in the panel and the discussion was moderated by Birgit Lao, Ambassador-at-Large for education of the Republic of Estonia.
On Tuesday afternoon, the educational delegation visited the University of Sharjah, Sharjah Private Education Authority and Sharjah Research, Technology and Innovation Park. The partners were very interested in cooperation with Estonian researchers, businesses and universities. During the visit, Tallinn University of Technology (TalTech) signed a cooperation agreement with the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park.
Yesterday, the minister met with Sheikh Saud Saqr Al Quasimi, Ruler of the Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah. For Estonia, it was the first meeting on government level in Ras Al Khaimah, where deep interest was shown in Estonian education and digital skills. Additionally, the delegation visited the American University of Ras Al Khaimah where cooperation opportunities were discussed in teacher training, among other topics.
During her visit to Dubai, minister Kersna was accompanied by the rectors of Estonian public universities: Toomas Asser (University of Tartu), Tõnu Viik (Tallinn University), Tiit Land (Tallinn University of Technology), Mart Kalm (Estonian Academy of Art), Henry-David Varema (Vice-Rector for International Affairs of the Estonian Academy of Music and Theatre), Ülle Jaakma (Vice-Rector for Research of the Estonian University of Life Sciences) and Meelis Kitsing (Estonian Business School). Former President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid, Director General of Estonian Research Council Anu Noorma and Ambassador-at-large for Education Birgit Lao are also partaking in the education week.
The university day taking place yesterday and Estonian EdTech day taking place today (opened with a speech by former President of Estonia Mrs Kersti Kaljulaid) will conclude the EXPO education week.
EXPO 2020 opened on 1 October and will continue until the end of March 2022. As the largest international business fair, EXPO aims to showcase the achievements of various countries around the world. Over 190 countries are represented by their pavilions at EXPO and over 25 million visitors are expected to attend the fair.