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11th WISE edition explores AI's educational potential, challenges, spotlights Gaza support

By Mays Ibrahim Mustafa - Nov 28,2023 - Last updated at Nov 28,2023

Fifteen -year-old rapper MC Abdul from Gaza sings during the opening ceremony for WISE (Photo courtesy of WISE)

DOHA — Bringing together thought leaders, innovators and young pioneers from across the globe, the 11th edition of the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) shined light on the potential for artificial intelligence (AI) to unlock educational possibilities, while delving into risks associated with its evolving landscape. 

WISE is a global platform for innovation in education, founded in 2009 by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development (QF) under the leadership of its chairperson, Sheikha Moza Bint Nasser. 

This year’s edition kicked off on Tuesday at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, under the theme: “Creative Fluency: Human Flourishing in the Age of AI”. 

In her opening remarks, Sheikha Moza highlighted Qatari efforts in supporting education in Palestine, particularly in Gaza, including Al Fakhoora programme, which takes its name from a school in the Jabaliya refugee camp, which has been shelled by the Israeli occupation forces. 

She also spoke of the impact of the ongoing war on Gaza on the future of education for children in Gaza, noting that 36 schools and universities supported by Al Fakhoora programme were either entirely or partly destroyed. 

With the destruction of each school and each university, depriving a child of their education as a result of violence, we lose one of the building-blocks of the future, said Sheikha Moza. 

She stressed that every time education is targeted, the international community takes several steps backwards in its efforts to protect education, which must “transcend political calculations and historical conflicts”. 

 

Artificial intelligence: challenges, potential 

 

Sheikha Moza said that the focus of this year’s WISE Summit is connected to education, as it explores the potential of AI, related challenges and ways to harness the possibilities it offers. 

She noted that the war on Gaza demonstrated how AI was used to fabricate stories, falsify facts, and restrict the publication of posts, photos, and videos that reveal the “atrocities” committed by the Israeli occupation forces against the people of Gaza and the West Bank.

She said: “This makes us wonder: whose stories does artificial intelligence select to be archived as history? Whose history will be told? Which ideas will be chosen as the most credible? And then: how do we maintain our independence and preserve our educational values? How do we remain sovereign societies?” 

She also highlighted the role WISE plays as a platform for innovation, in keeping pace with the changes taking place in the world, and the obstacles that education faces in certain countries. 

 

WISE Prize Laureate 

 

Vice Chairperson and CEO of QF, Sheikha Hind Bint Hamad Al Thani awarded the WISE Prize for Education, which recognises the work of education pioneers with global impact, to Safeena Husain, the founder of Educate Girls, a non-profit organisation in India that works to enhance access to education for girls from rural and disadvantaged backgrounds. 

In her speech, Husain highlighted the barriers girls have to overcome to secure their “basic right” to an education, noting that 122 million girls remain out of school, globally. 

“I believe that girls education is the closest thing we have to a silver bullet to solve some of the world’s most difficult problems,” she added. 

“The World Bank says that girls’ education is a catalyst for progress across nine of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, spanning from poverty, health and climate,” Husain noted. 

She also shared the story of Nagina Bano, a community volunteer with Educate Girls; she was a tortured and abandoned child bride, who used her education to survive, and currently works to empower other girls in her community. 

Bano had told Husain: “My education is the only thing that is truly mine; no one can beat it out of me, no one can steal it, no flood, no famine can take it away. My education will be with me till my dying day”.

 

A voice from Gaza 

 

A voice from Gaza was also present during the WISE Summit, shining light on the struggles of its people during the opening ceremony; it was the voice of a young Palestinian rapper, known as MC Abdul. 

He performed a song he wrote following the outbreak of the war on Gaza, focused on the right to peace and safety. 

“We have been going through so much trouble and I just want to take a second to remind everyone that we are humans too and we should have the right to live in peace,” the 15-year-old said following his performance, which earned him a standing ovation from the audience. 

 

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