Minister of Education Prince Faisal bin Abdullah will open a high-profile international education forum and exhibition here today. Finland, the official guest country at the event, has sent a 70-member delegation to Riyadh, led by its State Secretary Tapio Kosunen, to showcase its achievements and share the secrets of its success story in the field of education.
The event dubbed as “The International Exhibition & Forum for Education 2013 (IEFE)” aims to promote education, share information and learn from the experiences of other countries and their educational institutions, said Mohammed Al-Dukhaini, a spokesman of the Ministry of Education, here yesterday. Al-Dukhaini pointed out that the IEFE’s slogan for this year event is “Assessment for Improvement & Development.”
He pointed out that a large number of Saudi and foreign officials from 22 countries will attend this mega education forum in Riyadh. “Finland will be the honored country at this year’s IEFE,” said the spokesman, adding that this five-day international education show is being organized by the Ministry of Education under the aegis of King Abdullah. Al-Dukhaini said that the IEFE had attracted more than 200 participants including top-notch academicians, decision makers and exhibitors from various countries.
He said that about 113 events including an exhibition, an education forum with eight sessions, and several workshops will be organized as part of this event. “Minister of Education Prince Faisal himself will address one of the forum’s sessions in which he will speak about the future vision for the development of education in Saudi Arabia,” he added. A panel of about 43 speakers is lined up to address the forum or make presentations.
Finnish Ambassador Jarno Syrjala said that a huge contingent of university professors, top academicians, government officials and private educators led by Tapio Kosunen, state secretary, had arrived in Riyadh for the event. “We are deeply honored to be the official guest country,” said the envoy, adding that the event demonstrates again the importance of education as the bedrock of development in the Kingdom.
He said that Finland today is one of the nations that tops the international rankings in various research reports. From our point of view, one of the key factors behind the success is definitely education and investments in it. “Today for many we are the model for creating an efficient and sustainable educational system,” he noted.
Referring to the IEFE, another ministry official said that the IEFE is the biggest and the most well attended educational exhibition and conference in the Gulf region. More than 40,000 visitors turned up at the 2012 event, he noted. The IEFE 2013 has attracted senior level decision makers, key industry education providers and stakeholders from around the world for a great, inspiring networking and learning experience; that will eventually help those working in the field of education in the Kingdom.
“Globally recognized education, government and business leaders will deliver inspiring keynote presentations while there will be one to one meeting opportunities to foster cooperation, potential collaboration and possible commercial agreements in a formal setting,” he added. The focus will be on achieving promoting excellence, quality, performance improvement, deploying innovative solutions, new investment and international partnerships to achieve the desired objective, he said.
Responding to a question on Finland being chosen as the guest of honor, he said that until the late 1970s, Finland was classified as the least successful European country in the field of education. However, it has managed to reverse that status situation in a short time. “Finland has recorded the historic achievements of topping the United Nations annual list of leading countries in education,” he noted.
Prominent among those, who will address the sessions of the forum include Ali Alhakami, chief executive officer of Tatweer Company for Educational Services; Graham Stoop, chief executive & chief review officer, Education Review Office of New Zealand; Arlen R. Gullickson, professor emeritus, Western Michigan University (USA); and Glenda Anthony, co-director of Center of Excellence for Research in Mathematics Education, College of Education, Massey University, New Zealand.
Andreas Schleicher, director for education and special adviser on Education Policy to the Secretary-General, OECD France; Dr. Jonathan Alan Plucker Director, CEEP- Professor of Educational Psychology and Cognitive Science at the Indiana University School of Education, United States; Jouni Valijarvi, director, Finnish Institute for Educational Research, Finland’s University of Jvvaskvla; and Bronwen Cowi, director of Wilf Malcolm Institute of Educational Research of New Zealand’s University of Waikato will also speak at the forum.
Mohammad Bin Abdullah Al-Lihaidan, education general director in Tabuk region; Dr. Dorothy Harnish, director/evaluator area of Expertise Evaluation of Education Programs, University of Georgia, United States; Talal Abu-Ghazaleh, chairman, Arab Organization for Quality Assurance in Education/Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Organization (TAG-Org) of Jordan; and Saleh A. Alshumrani, an assistant professor at the Riyadh-based King Saud University, will make presentations during the beginning of the session today.

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