World Innovation Summit for Education "WISE" 2009

Doha, 16 November 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my pleasure today, to welcome you in Doha as we put together the corner stone for building the World Innovation Summit for Education - WISE – so that it constitutes a free space and a fertile ground for producing innovative thoughts and initiatives in order to achieve human dignity.

We will strive to ensure that this institutional summit and the annual meetings which will follow become the path towards renewing our commitment to education as a genuine right in shaping our identity which is in line with Qatar’s strategic vision for the year 2030.

Education is a main and decisive factor in ensuring our readiness to face the major and deep transformations which have become one of the aspects of our contemporary world.

Therefore the possession of knowledge and its investment to the benefit of the progress of humanity must be at the core of our priorities and at the forefront of our commitments.

Education is key in building a culture of peace instead of a culture of despair for our present and future generations.

A culture by which we can safely and confidently reach the doors of this small village - our world – and which enables us to preserve it and fortify it from the scourge of ignorance, isolation and fragility.

It is in this context that Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development launches this initiative in order to immerse itself in the universal effort aiming at providing good and quality education for everyone, in parallel with its priorities in the fields of education, research and human development.

Through this distinguished audience consisting of decision makers and major players interested in education issues, we hope to set the foundations for a forum which is able to expand dialogue and to encourage innovation in order to ensure maturing thoughts, to create opportunities and to come up with practical solutions able to link education issues to the requirements of sustainable development.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I have developed many years ago a firm conviction that the Education For All program is still on the shelf despite all the efforts made.

Indeed, as a result of the slow pace and the difficulties facing the achievement of its objectives, we get the impression that it is about to enter a coma or clinical death if we do not act fast and put together all our efforts and capabilities in order to save it.

To that end, I showed no hesitation within my commitments and responsibilities to approach UNESCO, the United Nations General Assembly, decision making venues, academic forums and other entities to sound the alarm with regard to the often times intentional and premeditated danger threatening the right to education.

Today, this program is our responsibility.

Together we can rebuild the trust in the human capabilities which God distinguished us with and bestowed upon us.

Our first step in this direction is to admit and acknowledge the seriousness of this imminent crisis we face and indeed the entire humanity faces.

This is not an overstatement or an exaggeration but it is a reality we deal with at every moment.

A reality which unfortunately does not lead us to make true commitments and to bear the responsibility of finding innovative solutions capable of containing this crisis in order to overcome it later.

Most of what we often do is a cold and timid circumstantial reaction resulting in development and research centers reports, the effects of which fade away pretty quickly, despite the miserable facts which these reports contain pertaining to our education situation and our irresponsibility.

And when I refer to irresponsibility, I do not make a distinction between powerful and weak, nor between developed and less developed; everybody is responsible and everybody has the duty to raise the level of education.

This can be achieved provided we realize the significance of our world’s description as a small global village in its geopolitical meaning and not as a metaphor.

Therefore we are required by this summit to debate deeply and discuss a series of issues at the core of the right to education which form its foundations and principles in order to draft an agreement on which we can build our next steps.

Innovation in education, which is the logo of this summit should become an achievable and executable process.

Normally, when the innovation issue is addressed, the industry, technology and business sectors come to mind and I believe that this approach shows a great deal of simplification and perhaps naivety.

Innovation should be at the heart of the educational work which is the path towards adapting the human energy and guiding it wisely for the purpose of upgrading the human mind, intelligence and innovation to serve the development objectives.

Hence, time has come for this concept to be placed in its global deeper context rather than only be confined to the ability of keeping up with the technological advances and controlling its utensils in order to meet the market and competition demands.

As such innovation can be neither imported nor implanted in a foreign body, rather innovation is a social culture which appreciates the human mind, a culture which develops and grows when it meets the requirements of the hosting environment.

This is how we have always understood major scientific and technological transformations, such transformations which shaped human history and which carried within the winds of positive change to the entire humanity.

And because innovation stems from society and is not imposed on it, it should therefore be a part of the identity of the educational institution, strengthening its spirit of taking initiatives, and making way for students, teachers and parents in all educational levels to be partners in the decision making process in a democratic, transparent and responsible atmosphere.

Here, both concepts of innovation and sustainability meet, the latter signifying not so much consistency and continuity in time as much as being a part of the educational project spreading to the neighborhood, the area, the city, the country and the universe.

And because the duty of education does not stop at the level of conveying knowledge but extends to teaching the values linked to the social and cultural pillars inside the local societies, the concept of pluralism should also play its part.

Ladies and gentlemen,

During the coming few days, all of us will work on complementing our efforts to analyze the status of education and to diagnose its problems but most importantly to reach together, proposals and an innovative road map which reflect our common convictions.

We are all here today because we believe that innovation in education is the corner stone for building the forum of international peace and because it represents one of the most important pillars for development.

In our Arab world are concerned more than anyone else with this topic not due to our current educational situation but because of the impact of our civilization on the human knowledge, which bestows upon us a great responsibility.

Our destiny is to be a strategic party due to historical and geographical considerations.

We want to enhance this position and it is our right and our duty to do so by overcoming the hurdles of our current educational situation through expanding the foundation of knowledge and strengthening its society.

We need to change from the inside in order to change our situation, this is our culture and these are our values and I believe that these are universal and human values.

That is why we have to make the change with our minds and thoughts and effort rather than being content with calling for it. We have to believe more than anyone else in the value of innovation in education.

Perhaps Nietzsche's words apply in this context and I quote “innovation is a cause for relief when it does not detach from the past.”

Thank you and wishing all the success to our forum.