GEMS Education and Siemens sign ground-breaking MoU to unite education and industry through KHDA’s Rahhal initiative – what does this mean for students?
Siemens and GEMS Education recently signed an MoU with the intention of increasing collaboration and integration between the education sector and industry. We take a closer look to see what this means for students.
“Schools of the future will evolve into hubs of learning, connecting young people with a personalised menu of opportunities linked to industry,” says Matthew Tompkins, the principal of GEMS FirstPoint School – The Villa (FPS). “Not all of these opportunities will be available at school; some will be in the workplace or in different learning institutions, while others will be accessed via cutting-edge technology from anywhere in the world. The future of education is being developed right now, and this calls for a pioneer to pull all the opportunities together. FPS is that pioneer.”
That’s a bold statement by any measure, but it takes a bold approach if your goal is to make education more relevant by preparing students for the world of work and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
Matthew’s vision is to develop an approach where schools work alongside industry throughout students’ education, so that when pupils leave school they are genuinely prepared for a life of employment. “It’s about the deeper experience that we’re creating by being able to add relevance to young people’s learning,” he says. “We take the knowledge that they learn in the classroom, and the skills that they learn in the workplace, and we blend these and bring them together, making the depth of knowledge that they have really exciting.”
Tapping into Siemens
FPS has the privilege of being the first school to reap the rewards of a new partnership between GEMS Education and Siemens. Officially launched towards the end of June 2019, the collaboration aims to add value to the transfer of knowledge and expertise to students, while also increasing and enhancing the sustainability aspects within FPS and GEMS Education, and promoting digitalisation.
Not just that, but FPS is also GEMS Education’s newly appointed Centre of Excellence for Digital Industries, which means the school is focused on becoming the best in that field, home to the highest level of expertise and resources for students, and able to take advantage of the partnerships with industry that the school has built.
“The Centre of Excellence at FPS creates tremendous opportunities for our learners,” explains Michael Gernon, GEMS Education’s Chief Education Innovation Officer. “They will be engaged in a whole range of different activities, whether it’s being exposed to some of the things Siemens is pioneering, or whether it’s internships for some of our older students. We will be developing a unique set of pathways for every single student who comes through FPS.”
Through the new partnership with Siemens, FPS students will gain access to industry-level courses and qualifications, as well as support from industry experts and internships. They will also have the opportunity to be part of an energy efficiency programme that will be adapted into a case study specific to their school, while also partnering with universities for accreditation.
“A strong partnership between academia and industry is key to developing sustainable knowledge economies, and ensuring students have the tools and skills they need to succeed,” says Dietmar Siersdorfer, CEO of Siemens Middle East. “We have a responsibility to invest in future generations so they may embrace the opportunities afforded by a digital economy, and this partnership will demonstrate the positive impact of technology and hands-on training in education.”
Thinking outside the box
The GEMS-Siemens partnership also builds on Rahhal, an initiative of Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA). Rahhal encourages schools to think outside-the-box and develop innovative learning opportunities that benefit students.
Dr Abdulla Al Karam, KHDA’s Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General, explains further: “This is a first-step towards recognising industry-academia partnerships at the school-level and a reflection of Rahhal’s potential to truly disrupt education. We hope the move will encourage students and teachers to co-create cities of the future by working with real-world scientists and innovators. This partnership can potentially encourage many more schools to come forward and partner with Rahhal in an effort to extend learning opportunities outside the classroom.”
In the immediate future, FPS will be heavily involved in ensuring the programmes that are developed hand in hand with Siemens are suitable for students. The school will also look to embed industry-level content into the curriculum, and host competitions and talks to the benefit of learners. These opportunities will then be rolled out to all age groups and across the entire GEMS network of schools.
“The future of education depends on the relevance of education in an ever-changing world,” says FPS Principal Matthew Tompkins. “The only way to keep pace with industry is to work with it and alongside it, and – through the Rahhal programme, our partnership with Siemens, and our Centre of Excellence – that’s exactly what we at FPS are achieving. I genuinely believe that this is the blueprint for schools across the world. This is the approach we are going to need to take if we are to keep pace with industry and if we are to enable the education of young people to enhance their employability skills.”