Queen Rania Teacher Academy (QRTA) launched the 2021 Forum today, under the theme ‘Learning Skills Gained in the Time of COVID-19.’ Featuring a distinguished group of educational speakers from around the world, the forum is accessible online for free upon registration.
The two-day online forum seeks to highlight the learning skills that students have acquired during the coronavirus pandemic, while emphasizing how students have overcome unprecedented challenges to develop and gain skills in new areas. These skills – such as self-learning, technologic abilities, independence, flexibility, adaptability, time management and emotional intelligence – have proven vital to students’ education and will become increasingly important in their future careers.
In his welcoming remarks, QRTA CEO Dr. Osama Obeidat, stated, “We need to encourage school leaders and teachers to think flexibly and reconsider what is offered to students in terms of quantity, duration and assessment methods. Even after this forum comes to a close, we hope that the door to dialogue will remain open on how educational systems, policymakers and schools can capitalize on the positive impact brought on by the pandemic, especially regarding students’ new learning skills.”
In turn, keynote speaker Dr. Harry Patrinos, Practice Manager for Europe and Central Asia at the World Bank Education, said, “Millions of children have been out of school and there has been considerable learning loss. It is paramount that we draw attention to the urgent need to prioritize education.”
“At the same time, our children and teachers, as well as parents, have learned new skills,” Patrinos added. “As we approach normalcy, it’s important that we nurture these new skills, address their learning needs, and give our students and teachers the support they deserve."
On his part, keynote speaker Dr. Dirk Van Damme, Senior Research Fellow at the U.S.-based Center for Curriculum Redesign, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic was “a real shock for all teachers, students, schools and the entire education system.”
“Education suffered, but also demonstrated its resilience and capacity to transform itself to better serve our students,” Van Damme noted. “Instead of restoring the old ‘normal’ as soon as possible, it is now critically important to reflect on and discuss the lessons learnt and to see how we can do better in the future. The Queen Rania Teacher Academy Forum is a wonderful opportunity to do so. Not many systems take the time and have the courage to examine what has happened.”
The forum aims at facilitating educators’ exchange of experiences gained and lessons learnt during the pandemic, while showcasing the basic skills and competencies required to meet learner needs. Moreover, the forum reiterates the significant roles of key educational stakeholders – namely policymakers, teachers and school principals – in identifying the skills that students have obtained relative to pre-pandemic expectations in order to amend instructions, allocate resources and build on these successes.
More than 7,000 participants from more than 50 countries have registered for the forum, in addition to 35 speakers from prestigious international educational institutions.
The forum comprises several discussion sessions, including, ‘School closures during COVID-19: Costs and opportunities for building back better’, ‘Capitalizing on gains and sustaining positive change: Response of education systems post-Covid’, ‘What is normal and what’s coming next? How should we adapt teacher preparation and development to meet these new challenges’, ‘Reimagination of education: Students’ perspectives’, ‘Leading during crises’, ‘Turning to technologies: What teachers tell us’, ‘Why did some students excel during distance learning, while it was a challenge for others?’, ‘Shaping innovation and EdTech in education post-COVID-19’, ‘Has the pandemic led to powerful shifts in perspectives and practices of school leaders?’ and ‘Cognitive and non-cognitive learning gains during the COVID-19 pandemic’.
Additionally, the forum will feature an interactive student-led session titled ‘Reimagination of education: Students’ perspectives,’ shedding light on their experiences with distance learning, relaying their perception of learning since the onset of the pandemic, and identifying the learning skills acquired. The participating students are Jana Sabri (Jordan), Yosef Fathi (United States), Lavinia da Mota Daros (Brazil), Harry Ingarfeld (Czech Republic) and McDaniel McDenny (Malaysia).
The forum’s supporters and contributors are Société Générale Bank (Jordan), Global School Leaders (United States), Ma’arif for Education and Training (Saudi Arabia), Winona State University (United States), Teach for Nigeria (Nigeria), The International Baccalaureate, World Bank Education, Ministry of Education and Higher Education (Qatar), Majan Education (Oman), Dasman School (Kuwait), Regional Center for Educational Planning/UNESCO (UAE), The British School Al Khubairat (UAE), Harvard Graduate School of Education (United States), Aanaab (Saudi Arabia), Cheleta Primary School (Kenya), Edraak (Jordan), University College London (United Kingdom), King’s Academy (Jordan), University of Cambridge (United Kingdom), Aldar Education (UAE), Center for Curriculum Redesign (United States), EY- Parthenon (MENA), T4 Education (United Kingdom), University of Connecticut (United States) and The Ruwad Basic Knowledge School (Palestine).