Now that we have recovered from what was an amazing weekend of celebrating educators and the outstanding work that is happening within the education sector globally; we would love to share with you some of Teach UAE Magazine’s favourite highlights from the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF), which was held at Atlantis the Palm Dubai March 12-13, 2016.

All the finalists

What a lovely, inspiring and truly remarkable set of top ten finalists! We were very humbled after talking with each finalist individually. Each of them was so giving in sharing with us during the conference.

We loved Robin’s congeniality and passion for helping others to heal while they learn other valuable lessons. It is heartening that the Krantikaries have empowered themselves and found the courage to give back to their communities.

Maarit was a breath of fresh air and gracious in sharing her vast expertise to help other teachers and students to love maths.

 Richard Johnson’s superb knowledge of technology had us sitting like avid students, while he expounded on great technologies that we need to prepare our students and ourselves (as educators) for in the not so distant future.

Kazuya’s composure and kindness made us want to be a student in his class. We love his dedication to lifelong learning.

Ayub’s smile could easily win a million hearts and his passion and drive for effecting positive changes through education, will continue to inspire millions for years to come.

Aqeela’s humility and deep love for teaching made us more appreciative of the importance of keeping a strong focus on the education of girls. We were inspired by our talk with her.

Colin brought plenty of good cheer. His easy smile and welcoming personality kept us attentive, as he effortlessly shared a number of memorable gems with us.

How cool is Michael Soskil? Super cool! We enjoyed every moment that we shared with him. From quick ‘hellos’ throughout the conference to an intimate talk about the work that he is doing, he always made us feel welcome and valued.

Joe Fatheree is awesome! Yes, we could easily see ourselves sitting in his classes and having a whole lot of fun while learning incredible things. Joe greeted us with open arms and graciously complimented all the other finalists, whom he believes are great pioneers in education.

Hanan Al Hroub won millions of hearts and the coveted US1 million dollar prize. She epitomises humility, grace and class. Hanan made everyone’s night when she encouraged the other finalists to hold and raise their hands in a powerful display of solidarity.

Impressive CPD opportunities

GESF focused on empowering educators and sharing the rich talents of movers and shakers within government and education. Attendees at the conference were able to benefit from key sessions with experts in education from across the globe. From intimate sessions where attendees could interact with the speakers (Meet the Mentor, Master Classes and EdTalks) to spirited debates that often yielded surprising results, there was something for everyone.

Access to movers and shakers within government and education

It was easy to network with key people within government and education within the UAE, the region and beyond. Government officials within the ministry of education from several different countries were on hand to update members of the media on important developments in education within their respective countries. They were also accommodating in accepting questions even after the press conferences were over.

Red carpet experience, celebrity appearances and gala dinner

Mr Sunny Varkey and his team went all out! The impressive number of celebrity and government endorsements of the event captivated us. We were glued to the main screen, as Former US President Bill Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden, Prince William and His Holiness Pope Francis, shared key messages. We cheered happily with audience members as Hollywood and Bollywood celebrities took to the stage. For us, the celebrities that we gawked over a bit were HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum.

Fast forward to the end of the award ceremony after a grateful, excited and happy Hanan Al Hroub claimed her award and heaped praises on to her colleagues (other finalists), HH Sheikh Mohammed, Mr Sunny Varkey and her supporters – when audience members poured into the hallways and made their way along a long red carpet to the gala dinner.

We felt like celebrities, as we collected scented rags to clean our hands. Around every corner was something cool. From a live traditional dance treat by beautifully costumed performers to loud screams and cheers from students who lined behind barriers set up like a scene straight out of a Hollywood type award evening, the excitement in the air was almost tangible. As we got closer to the venue for the gala dinner, photographers popped up ‘paparazzi style’ to photograph us. At the end of the carpet, everyone was treated to his/her choice of refreshing beverage while some of the latest hits boomed from speakers. The red carpet experience was a truly wonderful way to end such a powerful event that recognises education and educators.

The red carpet experience fuelled our excitement and anticipation for the gala dinner, which more than adequately lived up to our expectations. We enjoyed the tasty meal, live performances, special interviews from Matthew McConauhey, Ashay Kumar and others.

Excellent choice of venue – Atlantis the Palm

The Atlantis the Palm was an excellent choice of venue. Yes, many of us were left feeling a bit drained by delays prompted by road works on our way to the conference. However, once we got to the venue, it was smooth sailing. The overall ambiance of the hotel is inviting, luxurious and soothing on the senses. The staff was attentive and alert and were largely accommodating in ensuring that all of us were comfortable.

In conclusion, we know this is a very long post and believe us when we say that there are even more items that we could add to this list. We are grateful to have been a part of this event. We celebrate with each of the finalists and applaud them for their immense contributions to education. We also thank Mr Sunny Varkey and his team for the exceptional thought, planning and work that went into this event.

Teach UAE Magazine is proud to be an official partner of the Global Teacher Prize. Long may the prize and recognition of teachers continue.

What an amazing experience. We look forward to next year!

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