Lessons from WISE Paris

The World Innovation Summit for Education, a Qatari organisation established in 2009 is an international, multi-sectoral platform entrusted with creative thinking, debate and action to boost education provision through innovation and collaborative action.

Under its different programmes at different locations across the globe, WISE has established itself at the forefront of educational development by engagements with technology, healthcare and policy makers in driving down poverty, conflict, inequality, unemployment, climate change and other future challenges.

Its recently concluded 6th regional forum which took place across 4 locations including the CRI, the Sciences Po, UNESCO and Pixis all in Central Paris, was appropriately themed Education Futures: Fostering Learning Societies. The sessions which took place simultaneously left delegates with no option than to attend at one location. The CRI, Centre for Research and Interdisciplinarity, one of the locations easily accessible from Gare du Nord, was established in 2005 to create a student/researcher open environment in which collaboration can build a world where lifelong learning is at the core of society. Its main mission is to share innovative ways of learning, teaching and mobilising collective intelligence in the fields of life and evolving digital skills. Advocating for innovative pedagogy, CRI combines research and education placing students at the core of their learning experience through projects, research and societal challenges.

Disruptive & Highly Scalable Innovations to Advance Education in Africa & the Middle East, the first keynote speech drew attention to the co-founder of 42, in his presentation of a teacherless school under revolutionary pedagogy, who advocated for collective creativity or collective intelligence using unconventional methods. He promoted among other techniques identifying talents in young people who do not necessarily hold qualifications but are fortified with an abundance of creativity. More communication and co-operation are at the intersection promoted by Nicolas Sadirac without the placement of teachers in the classroom in a wide and open society. Quite controversial, it was eminent with an audience-wide reaction that teacher job security was at stake in his presentation.

Following on with the keynote speeches was that of Stephan Eloise, head of Strategic Partnerships in Africa who presented a theme on leapfrogging education in Africa. Her opening remarks confirmed that the majority of the global workforce in the future will be in Africa followed by the burning question: how can we make education more accessible with online learning? Identical to open classrooms, her presentation reeled off lots of achievement in terms of large African student cohorts who are enrolled on online courses under the Africa4tech scheme with a focus on aesthetic development and job creation.

Jared Lee who was next on the agenda generated a lot of excitement in the audience as a result of a plea to partner with his organisation in taking advantage of funding opportunities based on evidential outcomes achieved by any education project. A by-product of the Education Commission chaired by Gordon Brown, Education Outcomes Fund’s aim is to promote inclusive quality education in Africa and the Middle East by using results based finance to strengthen national education systems.

The executive director of the National Observatory for Children’s Right in Morocco. Lamia Bazir, presented facts about the statistics of children in street situations. According to her, there are 120 million children living on the streets worldwide with a 30% representation in Africa. In order to arrest the situation, she recommended that governments allocate funds within a child sensitive budget, creating a protective system at the city level and create robust enhanced social care fund. She reiterated that a lack of political will exacerbated the problem and pleaded for a replica of conventional innovations as implemented in the West especially that of Britain where social care system provided for mandatory registration of new born babies, schooled children and vulnerable children at risk at different times of their lives. Her conclusions include strong recommendation for African governments to create monitored information systems, children profiles, a top down approach to resolve the problem and a database of street children where possible. A toolkit is being designed by her organisation to be released very shortly at an international conference.

The Keynote speeches concluded with Karim Sy’s presentation who engaged the audience with 5 key principles that include collaboration, re-organising information systems for functionality, changing mind sets, identifying change leaders/makers and aligning change to empower every young person. With a self- description as a digital nomad, Karim is the founder of Jokkolabs, a social change hub.

The 2-day conference ended with multiple presentations, discussions and demonstrations at the Palais de Tokyo, where experts engaged the audience with discussion and debates of real time topics ranging from coding to research informed strategies fit for education in the future. Very insightful and engaging, WISE Paris is certainly working hard to promote education quality through strong collaborations with innovative institutions across the globe and offering a range of opportunities to individuals and start-ups with similar mission.

A biennial summit,  organised by WISE will be held on November 19-21, in Doha, Qatar, and will bring together a range of diverse stakeholders to explore and share ideas, and to collaborate toward creative action in education creative action in education.

Previous WISE@ events have been held in Accra, Beijing, Madrid, Tunis, and most recently, New York during the UN Global Goals Week in September 2018. These regional events are grounded in partnership with stakeholders to drive transformation in education with major change-makers and influencers with the aim of generating relevant and visible global educational impact.

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