The summit’s theme, “building the future of education”, was introduced by His Excellency Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, chairman of WISE, who warned that “one summit a year is not enough”. He urged delegates to connect with the organisation year-round to try to further global education goals.
The summit’s opening session was also addressed via video message by Nancy Pelosi, the current Speaker of the US House of Representatives, who said that the challenge for 21st-century education was “to unite our technology with our humanity”.
The summit will address two sub-themes over three days. Dr Al-Thani said that the first, that of improving education systems, would consider “the need to modernise, reinforce and expand inherited education systems”.
Speaking on this subject, Charles Clarke, former UK Secretary of State for Education, discussed the pressing need to reform education systems from primary level through to higher education.
“Change is accelerating in the world; the global community is building,” he said. “The question is: are we to be the victims of this change, or the masters of this change? I believe the answer is education.”
Speaking of his experience in the UK, Mr Clarke said: “There was a constant battle between those who thought the recreation of a golden age from years ago was something we should adhere to, and those who said we should look to the future. Education needs to go forwards, not be cast backwards.”
The second sub-theme, that of exploring innovative trends, will see delegates discussing recent technological advances in social media and Web 2.0 and considering how they can be applied to education.
Follow the summit's progress on Twitter via @timeshighered, using the hashtag #WISE2010