One of the largest student conferences in UAE begins in Abu Dhabi from February 19
Educator: Dr Tayyeb Kamali
Director of Abu Dhabi Mens College and CEO of the Centre of Excellence for Applied Research and Training (the commercial arm of the Higher Colleges of Technology)
Why is Education Without Borders 2005 being organised and what is HCTs role in it?
Education Without Borders (EWB) is a conference organised by students for the students of the world.
Here we take a different approach to a traditional conference and instead of inviting delegates to listen to experts from around the world about education and e-learning we reverse the role and invite students to present to the experts giving them centrestage in the education process.
We all know the youth are the future leaders and in order for them to reach their potential, we must give them the challenges and platform for personal growth. EWB is one of those platforms.
Around the world, there are key leadership and conference events for students that help to forge future leaders in business, community and education.
For example, every year we send students to the Lee Iacocca Institute in Pennsylvania, to the Global Village, where students from many countries attend a global leadership forum.
Here our students gain invaluable lessons in leadership and team building and come back better prepared to succeed in life.
We send students as a reward for excellence in academic achievement, special efforts such as this conference and for support to college life. Here students meet, debate and work together to develop leadership skills and team building.
The same is true of EWB. At the last conference, we formed the World Student Organising Committee to organise the conference starting on February 19, 2005 at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi.
The committee has 29 students representing 18 countries and 8 of them are from the HCT.
This is a serious group and they have made a tremendous effort over the last 24 months meeting virtually every week, forming sub-committees and making all strategic and detailed planning decisions to create a successful conference.
Each student selected has applied to help at the event, been interviewed with stringent criteria that include checking of grades and attendance before being accepted to support or attend. We look at it as a reward for their hard work over the course of their studies.
How does the EWB 2005 help expose national students to international expertise and knowledge?
Besides the ongoing organising (work) by the students and the interaction at the conference venue, we also arrange for business and educational leaders from around the world to attend and present to the students how to succeed; the latest educational technologies and transforming education for future generations.
The leaders from previous conferences include Jean Marc Cousteau, Bertrand Picard, and Edward DeBono among others.
This years conference has several well-known keynote speakers including two Nobel Laureates Murray Gell-Man and Carlo Rubbia, Lewis Platt chairman of Boeing, Denis Ranque Chairman and CEO Thales, Terry Matthews chairman of Mitel, Sean Rush, General Manager of IBMs Global Education Industry, Bernard Harris, astronaut, Tim Sebastian from BBCs Hard Talk, David Ignatius from The Washington Post, Alexander Brown, CEO CNBC, Frank Fahey, Minister of State, Ireland, Mike Moore former prime minister of New Zealand and Lynne Kosky, Minister of Education, Victoria, Australia, Chandra Babu Naidu, former chief minister, India.
These business, political and media leaders have all taken time from their busy schedule to be here in the UAE with the students of the world, demonstrating their support for youth, education and our future leaders.
We are very proud to attract such a dynamic group to the conference and the exposure for students is unparalleled by any other conference.
In addition to the student-leader interaction, we have students from leading educational institutions including the Oxford debating club known as The Oxford Union, MIT, Stanford, University of Ottawa, Texas A&M, University of Dublin, Virginia Polytechnique, University of Berlin and many more.
The conference networking and interaction between these powerful groups provides a dynamic learning atmosphere for our student participants.
Are there many papers being presented by HCT students at the event?
We received over 500 papers from over 600 students; there were over 1,200 applications from eligible students from over 110 countries. This is an incredible response as compared to any international conference.
We are very proud of the world interest in the event and the exponential growth achieved mostly through our contacts with education institutions globally and with previous conference participants.
Looking at the world-scale response we have narrowed it down to about 15 per cent from the HCT who will be present alongside undergraduate, masters and PhD students from Stanford University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Queensland University of Technology (QUT) and all of the other noted institutions.
How many international students (including countries) are attending the event?
Over 1,000 students will participate from more than 80 countries
How does the local student body respond to the event and how long have they been preparing for it?
The students are extremely excited, they have been working for the last 24 months and it has accelerated over the last six months, until they are all working long hard hours to ensure that the quality and logistics of such an event are well planned and executed.
The Abu Dhabi Mens College student council is a key organiser and they have done an excellent job motivating and arranging for hundreds of students from the HCT to participate and support the event in every detail.
What are the main issues that will be discussed at EWB 2005 and please give an overview of the event?
As more and more countries become information-based societies, the terms globalisation and information and communication technology are no longer buzzwords, but instead, daily realities changing the way people live, work and learn.
The main theme is elearning through the eyes of the world. The EWB conference is a biennial event and this is the third time the HCT has organised it.
I would like to add that we have dedicated this conference to Shaikh Zayed who is the founding patron and whose visionary leadership and support for education and youth as the future leaders of the country created the atmosphere that allowed this event to flourish.