CEO, Raffles Design Institute
Interim Dean, Mohammed bin Salman College of Business & Entrepreneurship (MBSC)
Can you tell us about the mission and purpose of your organization?
WAFA AL-RUSHAID As an art collector for the last 30 years, I appreciate beauty and art. I believe one can teach creativity; it is not necessarily something one naturally has. We brought in one of the most successful stories in the world and fought for it, because one is not allowed to open an international university in Saudi Arabia. We are still strictly a women’s college, and I would like to one day open my doors to both men and women. We are a boutique school; the ratio of faculty to students is two to one, compared to around 100 to one in public universities. Our students are extremely talented and creative, though they might have challenges that mean they need to be taught in a completely different manner. This institute is more of a home than a school, and as long as students fully dedicate themselves and show determination, it will change their lives. That dedication will give opportunities to people who did not have them to begin with. This will help bring out the best in them.
ASMA SIDDIKI At MBSC, our top strategic priority is to make an impact that is meaningful, lasting, and far reaching. That is why we offer both a world-class MBA and highly specialized executive education programs. The requirements of the nation, of course, fall on a continuum of needs, from vocational to academic, technical, and research-based education. While we do not at MBSC offer vocational training in the classical trade-training sense, we do offer highly skill-focused training through our executive education function. A few years ago, the educational offerings in the Kingdom expanded with the establishment of centers of excellence offering English language and computer skills. These programs slowly gained traction and eventually, especially through industry partnerships, added other technical skills to their offerings. Now, it is obvious that industry partnerships are just as critical for the success of vocational centers and training in addition to mere social elevation through certification, which cannot alone guarantee gainful employment.
What trends have affected education in the Kingdom?
WAR Design today is the third-most important job in the world. There is an investment of SAR200 billion (USD53 billion) coming into the country before 2020 for three major projects that are all design based. Every single department at Raffles, such as PR, branding, and interior design, all fit perfectly. When we create entrepreneurs, we create jobs, as they will go out and start companies and hire people. This has a direct impact on the economy. Technology will also play a huge role in forming these young minds. In fact, 80% of our students use the highest form of technology, including the software through which they design their applications, websites, and systems. They are not only using technology, but also creating it.
AS The education sector is really a concept that, for Saudi Arabia, needs to be interpreted as more than just formal education. The education provided to our youth needs to focus on what can be made available for them in the non-formal, and informal, education, or learning spheres. Ultimately, the skills needed, including critical thinking, are not skills that can be delivered exclusively or completely in a classroom. They must permeate all aspects of the learning experience of our children and youth, from the entertainment they indulge in, the vacations they go on, the sports they engage in, to the competitions they join, and every experience that takes them out of their comfort zone. That applies to both outside the classroom, as well as inside and outside the formal education system—to put students on a path of learning and discovery.
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