World Innovation Summit for Education "WISE" 2012

Doha, 13 November 2012

May Peace be upon you.

I welcome you all once again to Doha and to WISE, where we are continuing to build on the work we started in 2009 in the field of education. I praise you all for your contribution in addressing the world’s educational challenges, in particular, issues related to innovation for change.

We have witnessed the success of WISE in its comprehensive approach and its ability to promote the pivotal role of education. Education is central to human life and is at the heart of all the world’s issues. It thus requires multi-disciplinary partnerships and interests to forge together a future free from the illiteracies of today: alphabetic illiteracy, cultural illiteracy, economic illiteracy and more.

However, the possibility of change in any of these fields will be hindered if the vocabulary of this change does not start from the foundation of education.

And here in Doha, we meet annually under the umbrella of WISE to set that culture of innovation in education. We are all aware that education is at the heart of all our challenges today.

Education can lead countries to prosperity or to ruin. It is through education that the collective mind of the community is formed. It is through education that we draw the features of the future: a future that should always be new and innovative. It is through education that we choose to either progress or to regress or that we choose either the values of peace or the values of conflict.

The historic value of this conference, your annual conference, stems from all of this. WISE is not just an annual event. Its work continues throughout the year and across the world - but of course fed by the sessions, discussions and networking that come out of our Doha gathering.

The need for innovation to tackle educational challenges and to stimulate the spirit of innovation, requires quality work to produce quality education. Just as sustainable development requires sustainable education and exceptional problems require exceptional solutions.

One of WISE’s pioneering features lies in the support of innovative and scalable projects that can be applied in different environments through a network based on cooperation and continuous coordination. For example, the project of the ‘BRAC institution’ in Bangladesh, whose founder Mr. Fazle Hasan Abed won the first ever WISE Prize last year. BRAC is considered as an excellent example of an innovative solution that succeeds in providing education even difficult circumstances.

In the flood plains of Bangladesh, establishing schools that can reach isolated populations can seem impossible. BRAC provides an innovative solution - the so-called "floating schools", which gather students in classrooms on boats, as well as picking them up and dropping them off at each end of the school day. Therefore, these floating schools provide both education and transportation.

Last month when I visited one of these schools, to see the project for myself, I was deeply impressed by the unlimited human capacity to challenge difficulties and overcome natural conditions.

This is the role of WISE, a role we look forward to expanding - to create a relationship of shared communication and knowledge, to build bridges between challenging situations and those who are capable of bringing effective solutions.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In today’s world, there is not just one path to education, there are many. In today’s world, we must share these paths in a spirit of cooperation and coordination. In today’s world, excellence and innovation cannot be hidden away.

I believe there is no other sector that requires cooperation and coordination as much as education. It is through education that the future, and our common dreams are formulated.

If we deal with the problems education faces, and if we ensure that everyone has access to it, we will eliminate many social, economic, political and security problems that result from the failure to realise this human right.

Is it fair and just that 775 million people are illiterate in the twenty-first century? That 61 million children do not have the right to primary education, including 28 million in conflict zones? These are the people who need education the most if we want to build a world free from the scourge of crises and conflicts.

Despite international efforts in the field of education, there are still serious deficiencies that require serious cooperation to accomplish change.

In September this year, world leaders at the United Nations renewed their pledge to give all the world’s children access to primary education by 2015. This requires a comprehensive international effort. The result of this effort could enable us, in the future, to move from addressing this issue to confronting other challenges.

WISE is currently building a new social contract through a number of programmes.

However, to fully complete the necessary changes to education, requires a moral and practical obligation on all of us to contribute to these efforts. We will not succeed if we do not believe in real and effective partnership.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Each one of us, starting from his own country or institution, can be part of this change, through our willingness to bring about a culture of innovation in education.

However, both knowledge in general and the creation of the innovation culture in particular, require a collective action of cooperation and coordination in order to achieve the common goals.

In this context, and from the WISE platform, I invite you to join me tomorrow morning to launch a new initiative that will bring practical solutions to provide education to millions of students who are currently deprived from their basic human right.

I wish your – our - conference the greatest success

Peace and God’s mercy and blessings be upon you.