International Day of Education: students debate the future of schools at the Portugal Pavilion

The Portugal Pavilion hosted the fourth edition of the Next Generation World Majlis Programme this Monday, 24 January, in collaboration with the Expo 2020 School Programme. Students from around the UAE discussed how education systems, schools, and teaching methods must adapt to prepare upcoming generations for an unpredictable future and for jobs that do not yet exist.


The panel discussion – A School For My Children: Notes From the Teachers and Parents of Tomorrow –  at the Portugal Pavilion was moderated by Rohan Roberts, Director of Innovation and Future Learning at GEMS Education, and featured six pupils.


Amna Almansoori, a student from Emirates National School in Ras Al Khaimah, said: “There is no doubt that the education system has a lot of room for improvement. We have not changed our education systems since the 19thcentury. We are still producing people of predictable behaviour. We are not producing the innovative thinkers that we want.”


Artificial Intelligence (AI) and other technological tools can be adapted at future schools to allow students to learn and think more efficiently, said Marwa Al Ali, a student at Sharjah American International School.


She said these tools will not replace educators but rather enhance their teaching methods: “Many people think that in the future, robots will actually replace teachers. However, I feel like teachers will always be in classrooms. They might use robots as a learning tool. I predict there will be new roles for teachers, such as project-based learning specialists. So, the role of the teacher will expand into many different things.”

Changing the system is essential to creating a better future for all, because thousands of companies around the world no longer look at university degrees to measure a candidate’s qualifications. Instead, they look at what an applicant can offer and what talents they have, said Isabel-Juliana Mewald, a student at the Dubai International Academy.


She said: “As we move towards the future, we see that companies are actually valuing degrees less and less. They do not care as much about it anymore. They are actually looking at younger people who are talented, who seem capable of fostering creativity. There is an abundance of internships, an abundance of companies going to young people and telling them that want to allow them to grow their talent further.”


Nityaansh Parekh, a student at the Delhi Private School in Sharjah, said that education systems need to be restructured to allow young people to think creatively and apply the skills they learn in school in the real world. Standardised testing and exam culture will no longer be beneficial in a world that will rely on innovative solutions to deal with global challenges, he added.


The session held at the Portugal Pavilion marked the International Day of Education. As part of the World Majlis programme, the Next Gen World Majlis fosters conversations with and amongst our nation’s youth on a variety of topics and themes that matter for the future.