The Education Without Borders 2007 student conference got off to a glittering start with more than 1,000 students, academics and international experts packing the Emirates Palace Hotel to hear 2006 Nobel Prize winner Muhammad Yunus urge young people to be the leaders of tomorrow.
The economic guru from Bangladesh and founder of the innovative Grameen Bank and helper of the poor was in Abu Dhabi to lead a biennial conference organized by the Higher Colleges of Technology aimed at students and leaders of business, technology, education and humanitarian efforts around the globe. The three-day world class conference attracted students from more than 100 countries.
In his opening address, HCT Chancellor and Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research His Highness Sheikh Nayan Mabarak Al Nayan welcomed the participants and said it was an honor for the UAE to host such an impressive list of global experts and future leaders.
Focusing on globalization in the developing world, Sheikh Nayan said it was like an invisible hand extending into places where it has never been seen before and leaving effects never imagined before.
“The effect on the peoples in those places has not been uniformly positive, with impact ranging from an emerging monoculture to a deepening divide between a privileged class and a growing underclass. I am sure you agree that an economic divide threatens to limit the realization of full human potential.
“I am also sure you agree that a digital divide reduces the potential of technology to solve problems of the world,” Sheikh Nayan said.
He encouraged students to become better educated and stressed that education in a global age did not mean only an accumulation of skills and information. In calling for a broader education Sheikh Nayan said what was also needed is “an attitude of openness, tolerance and understanding.
“Living in a global community obliges us to consider the viewpoints of others and to seek commonality with our counterparts in different societies and environments.”
The conference ‘’brilliantly reflects the highest and best ideals of a global society that measures its success by the quality of cooperation, dialog and peaceful interaction among all of its citizens,’’ Sheikh Nayan said.
“By initiating this student organized conference, participants have sought to project these ideals into the world. The conference demonstrates that students around the world remain hopeful about the future. They exhibit enthusiasm, initiative and intellect, and commit themselves to change. Most importantly, the new generation of students is eager to reach out to colleagues across national boundaries.’’
He stressed that education and technology was changing the way that individuals, nations and governments behave and interact. “Your focus on education without borders affirms your emerging role, indeed your duty to be engaged in the affairs of the world.”
Sheikh Nayan also brought special greetings and a warm welcome from the patron of the conference, the President of the UAE His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nayan. He described Sheikh Khalifa as a ‘major force for development and progress’’ in the UAE and a leader who valued creativity and innovation.
“We are also fortunate to have the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nayan, Crown prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces. With his strong support the students of the Higher Colleges of Technology have been able to offer our capital city of Abu Dhabi and the Emirates Palace as a venue for this conference.’’