A LESSON LEARNED

Qatar 2020 | EDUCATION & RESEARCH | FOCUS

The international attention set to fall on Qatar over the coming years is significant only to the extent that it generates advances in human capital required by Qatar's blueprint, National Vision 2020, where local know-how and innovation advance the nation and promote wellbeing.

On December 2, Doha's Aspire Zone saw the opening of a new landmark and construction in the 2022 Building, a tribute to winning the hosting of 2022 FIFA World Cup. It is notable for being the world's first building to take the physical shape of a year. And yet it is the academic year that Qatar places greatest stock in to develop local human capital today that will operate the smart economy of tomorrow.

Conferring on Tomorrow
Like oil before it, data is today's strategic resource, and one dependent upon those trained to generate and interpret it, before applying it to real-world scenarios. As such, Qatar University (QU) in 2019 hosted perhaps its most telling conference, titled “Knowledge-Based Economy in Qatar: Trends and Opportunities For Interdisciplinary Research And Policy." The event brought together stakeholders, public and private, to dissect opportunities and the means to pursue them, such as the adoption of international best practices and the pursuit of innovative education transferrable to the entrepreneurial arena. Moreover, the event underlined the need for each government department to be equally on board with the overarching program to enhance their respective parts of the national equation.

A City of Learning
And at the head of related initiatives propelling the nation toward an information economy are the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology and Qatar Foundation. Those initiatives have given rise to the Qatar Science and Technology Park, a flagship of academic excellence. The Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030 continues to welcome foreign academic powerhouses, but there is another commitment at play in the vision, namely the nurturing of local talent to counterbalance the top-heavy expatriate part of the skills equation. The numbers that define Qatar's City of Learning are impressive. It hosts a total student count of around 8,000 across all institutions, of which nine are universities. Those nine include giants such Carnegie Mellon University, present in Qatar since 2004, and a force to be reckoned with whose programs span science, technology, and commerce, graduating tomorrow's innovators. Another stalwart institution since 2005 is Georgetown University in Qatar that, among others, provides a bachelor of science in foreign service (BSFS) degree.
To maximize the experience, students at the city are able to cross-register for classes at other branch campuses and work towards other qualifications that lean on the skills and specializations of academic staff from other universities. In fact, pupils of the pre-university schools use the Academic Bridge Program to take university taster programs.
Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, another champion of the national education drive, heads up the Education Above All (EAA) Foundation established in 2012 with the goal of addressing poverty at home and abroad through education. Qatar's wider reach in this area was exemplified in November 2019 when the World Innovation Summit for Education, staged in Doha, launched the Educate a Child program that pursues a zero-strategy of omission from education, one geared at the so-called last-mile children still denied one.

Oil and gas will not quickly cease to float Qatar's dynamic and increasingly diversified economy. But what QNV 2030 does is address the fundamental need of an information society: the strategic development and application of data and a smart workforce delivering ever-smarter solutions.