ABU DHABI // The former British prime minister Gordon Brown will be among those at the capital's first global education summit next month.
The Transforming Education Summit (Tes) will bring together more than 150 education leaders from 30 countries between May 7 and May 9 to analyse education needs and develop strategies for effective leadership and system changes.
The Abu Dhabi Education Council (Adec), which is hosting the event, has started an overhaul of the government education system and expects the summit to add expertise and push for effective global reform.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, the consultancy Booz & Company and Advanced Technology Investment Company are partners with the authority in the event, which will be held every two years.
"We have invited decision-makers from all over the world because in Abu Dhabi we seek global participation," said Dr Mugheer Al Khaili, the director general of Adec.
"We should be able to compete at a global level. Global is not just a word but a big effort required from all those working in the education field."
The summit will explore topics including building capability, government leadership and the collaboration of other sectors. Keynote speakers include Tarja Halonen, the former president of Finland; Muhyiddin Yassin, the deputy prime minister and minister of education in Malaysia; and Mary Hanafin, the former Irish minister of education and science.
Tim Sebastian, the former presenter of the BBC's HARDtalk, will be the master of ceremonies.
Organisers said they looked at various international conferences, including the World Innovation Summit for Education (Wise) held in Qatar, but developed their own format.
Wise, which will be held in November, has also called its conference Transforming Education this year.
Sebastian Rubens Y Rojo, the director of Tes, said the summit in Abu Dhabi was more selective than the one that began in Doha in 2009.
"At Wise the audience is varied but at Tes every single attendee is a leader on an invite-only basis," Mr Rojo said.
He said their effort was to tap into the "how" rather than the "what" in education.
"We are not looking at what the best reform is, because right now that is known," Mr Rojo said. "But leaders are struggling in how to implement, transform and drive reform."
Dr Rafic Makki, the chairman of the summit and executive director of planning and strategic affairs at Adec, said the focus was on providing insights and developing plans that involved the community and local economy.
"We are looking at what the needs of the education system are: developing comprehensive leadership and how to translate strategies into groundwork," Dr Makki said.
Richard Shediac, the senior vice president of Booz & Company, said such discussions were more important in the Middle East because of large-scale unemployment among youth. One in four young people in the region are unemployed, which is double the global rate.
"In our recent survey [of businesses] we found that a third do not find students well enough prepared for the job market," Mr Shediac said. "A third also said that education does not prepare them to succeed."
Working committees will be established to work on recommendations that emerge from panel debates and a white paper will be published documenting the ideas put forward by leaders.
A local forum will be held to share the insights from the summit with principals, teachers, parents and pupils.