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Balkanalysis.com Briefing on Education Without Borders Conference, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, UAE, March 2013

From 25-28 March 2013, Balkanalysis.com correspondent Lana Pasic participated in and presented at the 7th Education Without Borders Conference in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The following briefing provides information about the event and other high-level participants, including several from the Balkans.

The 7th biennial Education Without Borders 2013 conference (EWB 2013), Bridging the Gap: Innovative Solutions to Global Educational Challenges was held from 25-28 March 2013, together with the Festival of Thinkers, and Higher Colleges of Technology  25th Anniversary events.

The conference opened on Tuesday with a speech by H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology. The first day of the conference, a traditional Festival of Thinkers, featured former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who discussed the importance of education and human capital, as well as the role of science and technology, and also included the remarkable Swami Parthasarathy whose lecture, Born in Captivity, emphasised the importance of free thinking and development of intellect, as opposed to mere knowledge accumulation.

The day continued with a discussion between Nobel Laureates: Prof. Klaus von Klitzing (Physics, 1985) Sir Harold W. Kroto, (Chemistry, 1996), Prof. Douglas Osheroff (Physics, 1996); Prof. Yuan Tseh Lee (Chemistry, 1986), Prof. Martin Chalfie (Chemistry, 2008) and Prof. Jerome I. Friedman (Physics, 1990) and students, moderated by Riz Khan from Al Jazeera London. The Laureates discussed the need for mentorships, but also the importance of constantly pursuing one’s education. Although the speakers and the Laureates focused most of their discussion on science and the new technologies, delegates and students noted the need to keep in mind the context of low income countries, where such technologies may not be available. Furthermore, the need to involve more women leaders in the discussions was emphasized.

On the next day, the conference moved to Sharjah Women’s College, where the paper presentations were held. Topics discussed were the importance of access to education, mentorship, public- private partnership, globalization, innovation, science and technology and legal education, among many others.

In general, the EWB 2013 conference was centered on the following eight sub-themes:

Education: Enhancing Access; Ensuring Student Success;

The Role of Education in Meeting Global Challenges;

Emerging and Innovative Models of Higher Education;

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) Education: Initiatives and Challenges;

New Media and Mobile Learning: Enabling and Educating Learners;

University Internationalism – Reaching Beyond Traditional Boundaries;

Transitional Futures for Higher Education – From Academic Enterprise to Economic Growth Engine;

Research and Teaching mandates: contradictory or complementary?

Among the delegates present were representatives of several Balkan countries, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia. In addition to Balkanalysis.com contributor Lana Pasic, other presenters from the region included Ruzica Jurcek (Croatia) and Daniel Gjokjeski (Macedonia).

The conference closed with another discussion between the Nobel Laureates and the delegates. Following the announcements of the Best Papers, H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development and Chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, and HE Pance Kralev, Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Macedonia signed a Memorandum of Understanding, enabling student exchanges between the two countries, and creating new opportunities for students from Macedonia to study in the UAE.

Education Without Borders is a biennial international student conference, which aims to creates networks across cultures and discuss some of the world’s greatest issues. Students, world leaders, business representatives and educators come together in a forum discussing the most pressing challenges their regions face. This is achieved by engaging the world’s most innovative students and leaders of business, technology, education, and the humanitarian sector in a collaborative forum that culminates with commitment to action.

To celebrate the Higher Colleges of Technology’s 25th anniversary, the Education Without Borders 2013 conference was combined with the HCT’s biennial Festival of Thinkers conference, with both conferences running back to back on the week of March 25-28, 2013 in the United Arab Emirates. That week resulted in a synergistic combination of some of the world’s brightest and most talented students collaborating with world leaders, thinkers and Nobel Laureates to discuss and propose solutions to the issue of education and educational technology in the 21st century.

Balkanalysis.com is an American research and analysis firm that provides dedicated coverage of the Balkan and Eastern Mediterranean regions, in areas ranging from politics and security to economics and culture. It draws on the expertise of its broad network of field analysts and reporters representing a number of various countries and professional backgrounds.

Balkanalysis Briefings is a regular series in which correspondents of Balkanalysis.com, sometimes in affiliation with partner organizations, engage with representatives of companies, governmental institutions, non-governmental groups and other organizations professionally involved with the Balkan and Mediterranean regions in order to gain insight into issues, trends and other factors affecting present and future developments in the area. This process contributes to better analytical and prognostic research, allowing Balkanalysis.com to better serve its readers, while also providing Briefings partners an opportunity to make their products, services and goals better and more clearly known among those most actively involved with the region.

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