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Story | Research
13 November 2019

WISE creates a community learning experience for Qatar

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WISE creates a community learning experience for Qatar

New Doha Learning Days festival aims to inspire and engage people across the nation

Doha Learning Days – Qatar’s first experiential learning festival – will be an opportunity for people across the nation to explore new skills and learn about different innovations, according to the team behind its community-focused program.

The six-day festival, set to take place in Education City, has been organized by WISE – an initiative of Qatar Foundation – and is bringing together more than 50 local entities, including strategic partners Qatar Rail, Ooredoo, and ExxonMobil, to deliver innovative activities that are designed to generate positive change within Qatar’s community.

All of the activities have been designed to bring the focus of bringing new learnings and experiences to the community.

Victoria Basma

Curated and developed for the people of Qatar, it will get under way on Thursday, November 14, and aims to take the learnings and innovations that emerge from WISE’s biennial summit to the nation.

“There hasn’t been a learning festival in Doha before. We have food festivals and coffee festivals, but there hasn’t been something that convenes the community in one place altogether in a way that revolves around learning,” says Victoria Basma, Policy and Partnerships Officer, WISE.

“At WISE, we have our biennial summit, which historically has been seen by the local community as an exclusive event. So the idea behind Doha Learning Days came from a desire to take the learnings and innovations usually seen at the summit to the community. Now, with the support of ExxonMobil, we’ve created a festival that is open to everyone.

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“We have curated a program featuring activities organized and sponsored by local organizations. These range from coding workshops with GoCode, to sports and wellness activities with Yama Yoga, LiveLife Qatar, and Brain Education Middle East. All of the activities have been designed to bring the focus of bringing new learnings and experiences to the community – like a skill gap you haven’t been able to fill, or a piece of technology you haven’t had the opportunity to try.”

Activities also include exhibitions by Phone Art Qatar, workshops on sustainability with Torba Farmers Market, and presentations by Doha Film Institute. Each of the festival’s sessions relate to one of the event’s main themes: Deconstructing Existing Learning Frameworks; Re-centering Learning around Human Values; and Re-learning How to Build Thriving Societies.

“Deconstructing Existing Learning Frameworks means putting learners at the forefront of the festival, and, to do that, a whole host of our sessions are run and led by students,” explains Victoria.

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“Meanwhile, Re-centering Learning around Human Values is about bringing the human element into the learning experience, making sure all of our workshops are interactive and bring something new to our audience.

“Our final theme, Re-learning how to Build Thriving Societies, centers around re-learning basic skills we seem to have forgotten – interacting with one another on a one-to-one basis, and understanding how to be better citizens, then building on that understanding together. We have a number of activities based on what it means to be a global citizen, as well as a number of workshops that explore community development and local culture.

“Bringing those things together, and seeing what comes out of them, is the most exciting element of Doha Learning Days.”

Designed by the community, for the community, the program of events is open to everyone, free of charge, with some sessions running in Arabic and some in English.

We hope the next step for Doha Learning Days is for students have a lot more input and agency in this festival.

Victoria Basma

Looking forward, Doha Learning Days is intended to become an annual event, and Victoria says: “We hope the next step for Doha Learning Days is for students have a lot more input and agency in this festival.

“Next year, we’ll work more closely with students, focusing on skills gaps, and asking them what are the things that they feel would benefit their communities the most – ultimately letting them build the festival around their ideas.”

Doha Learning Days is set to take place in the lead up to the WISE Summit 2019, which will be held at Qatar National Convention Centre from November 19-21. More information about the festival, including a full program and highlights, is available at www.wise-qatar.org/, with those interested in participating being encouraged to RSVP for certain sessions to ensure their place.

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