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GCES: Celebrating Five Years of Education Collaboration in the GCC

Al Qasimi Foundation
December 22, 2013

This year, the Gulf Comparative Education Society (GCES) will begin its sixth year as a professional society and will be holding its Fifth Annual Symposium, which is scheduled to take place in Dubai at Dubai Men's College from April 9th to 10th.

Since 2008, this non-governmental professional society has been dedicated to fostering academic and policy research in the field of education across the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The GCES has aimed to fill a void in the educational landscape through research and exchange via its annual GCES Symposia and online network.

Dr. Christina Gitsaki, Associate Academic Dean of English at Dubai Men’s College and current GCES President believes that the GCES’s impact is continuing to grow, “Over the past few years the GCES has become a leader in the local academic community, mainly due to its focus on educational research and its commitment to raising awareness and shaping local policies for the education of Arab youth.”

Dr. Salha Issan, who has spoken at two symposia and has published research findings through the GCES, echoes Dr. Gitsaki’s sentiments. She believes that “the primary interest of this intellectual community is knowledge-based societies and promoting educational change.”

Drs. Gitsaki and Issan invest their time and resources in the GCES because they understand that the society contributes to tangible reform in the region. And they are not alone in their efforts. 

To date, more than 500 participants from fifteen different nations have shared in the GCES experience. Symposia speakers have addressed topics like education reform, the intersections of the public and private education sectors, global innovations and trends in education, teacher quality and assessment, and the policy/research divide in education. 

Dr. Natasha Ridge, Executive Director of the Al Qasimi Foundation, as well as a founding member and tireless advocate of the society, remarks, “The GCES has wonderful potential to not only connect researchers and academics studying education in the Gulf but to provide valuable input to policy makers across the Gulf.” 

The Al Qasimi Foundation has sought help the GCES maximize its influence among policy makers and educators by awarding one doctoral student a travel grant to attend the symposia each year, a contribution that promotes academic research on the Gulf region and fosters professional exchange within it. 

Rebecca Hodges, recipient of the 2013 travel grant illustrates the advantages of involvement in the GCES, explaining, “The travel grant enabled me to expand my research on the role of teacher training in education reform for a knowledge economy beyond my Fulbright grant in Jordan. 

“My greatest joy was meeting all the wonderful participants and connecting with other scholars working on education across the Gulf states. The GCES provides a productive environment to share ideas about education reform, make international friendships, and connect theory and practice in education studies.”

The catalyst for such cooperative energy is the GCES’s annual symposia, and 2014’s Fifth Annual Symposium represents a milestone in the society’s short but productive service record.

Here, scholars and educators will interact with a fresh theme—“Locating the National in the International: Comparative Perspectives on Language, Identity, Policy, and Practice”—and will consider the role that education plays in creating and preserving national identity, language, and heritage in the a context of global competiveness and influence. 

This year, the society also welcomes a new board member, Dr. Kay Sanderson, Senior Lecturer at Middlesex University in Dubai, who also holds the title of Vice President of the society. 

Dr. Sanderson understands the unique benefits of the GCES and praises “the collaborative approach adopted by the GCES and its members.”  

Thus, in the future, the GCES looks forward to expanding its influence across the Gulf region through professional collaborations, publications, and annual symposia. 

As Dr. Ridge explains, “We hope that in the coming years, membership will continue to grow and that we will be able to encourage more local scholars to be involved in comparative and international education research.”