King Abdulaziz University joins Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab as newest Higher Education Collaborative member

16 Sep 2019

King Abdulaziz University joins Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab as newest Higher Education Collaborative member

  • King Abdulaziz University to address Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 higher education goals through engagement with MIT

  • University is first institution from Saudi Arabia to join the prestigious Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) at MIT

  • J-WEL was co-founded in 2017 by MIT and Community Jameel

JEDDAH, SAUDI ARABIA, September 8, 2019 — At a ceremony at the King Abdulaziz University (KAU) in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in the presence of the university’s vice-chancellors, deans and professors, and Dr Ibrahim Badawood, Managing Director of Community Jameel, the global philanthropy, and HE Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Youbi, Director of KAU, welcomed Dr. M. S. Vijay Kumar, Executive Director of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and said that KAU is delighted to join the membership of J-WEL’s Higher Education Collaborative.

"The university is striving to keep pace with global developments in higher education and to build ties with renowned international educational institutions," HE Dr Abdulrahman Al-Ayoubi commented. He referred to the Royal decree No. 74167 dated 29/12/1440 H of establishing a national center for artificial intelligence and database management in Saudi Arabia, adding that KAU is proud to be among the first universities in Saudi Arabia to sign a participation agreement with J-WEL at MIT, one of the world’s most reputed organizations in the field of artificial intelligence, a step that perfectly aligns with Saudi Arabia’s agenda in this regard.

KAU, Saudi Arabia’s leading public university, expects to address the country’s Vision 2030 higher education goals through participation in J-WEL. KAU expects to work with the J-WEL team to restructure the curriculum, starting with the foundation year, to incorporate innovation training and better address the needs of industry. KAU also hopes to develop a School of Education to support teacher education in Saudi Arabia.

Professor Dr. Abdulmonem Al-Hayani, Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs at KAU, congratulated the university for this step on the path to developing and further modernizing the educational environment, in collaboration with leading international organizations. He said that the move is in line with Saudi Arabia’s strategic directions and comes to support the country’s plans and programs. "It is part of our efforts to maintain our gains in local and international rankings. Saudi Arabia is witnessing educational and scientific development under the wise leadership and with unlimited support to education sectors in the country", he concluded.

Co-founded by MIT and Community Jameel in 2017, J-WEL promotes excellence and transformation in education at MIT and globally by engaging educators, technologists, policymakers, societal leaders, employers, and employees. Through in-person and online collaborations, workshops, research, and information-sharing events, J-WEL member organizations—including schools, universities, non-governmental organizations, government agencies, and companies—work with MIT faculty and staff to address global opportunities for scalable change in education.

"We welcome King Abdulaziz University to the J-WEL community," remarked J-WEL Executive Director Dr. M. S. Vijay Kumar. "Their focus at the intersection of higher education and innovation is exactly the space that J-WEL is well-positioned to explore with the KAU team."

Through J-WEL membership, KAU joins a community of 25 other schools, universities, non-profits, government agencies and companies addressing the world’s most pressing education challenges and exploring opportunities presented by new educational technologies, effective practices, and emerging scientific understandings of learning. Other members of the Higher Education Collaborative include University of Sharjah (UAE), University of São Paulo (Brazil), and Seikei University (Japan).

Representatives of KAU met with the J-WEL team this Spring on the MIT campus to explore membership, and KAU will join other members at the upcoming J-WEL Week, to be held at MIT on October 28-31, 2019. Signature events of J-WEL, J-WEL Weeks bring together representatives of member organizations with MIT faculty and researchers from across MIT. Through seminars, presentations, and hands-on work, MIT participants support member efforts to transform educational systems and develop solutions applicable across global contexts.

On the occasion, Fady Jameel, President, International of Community Jameel welcomed KAU as a member of J-WEL and thanked HE Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Youbi for this pioneering step to strengthen closer ties between J-WEL and KAU: “Community Jameel seeks to build a bridge between researchers and students at MIT and those in the education sector in Saudi Arabia. We are working to support Vision 2030’s plans for a developed education system aligned with market needs and creating economic opportunities for entrepreneurs, small businesses and large corporations,” he said.

Besides J-WEL, other major collaborations between MIT and Community Jameel included the Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL), established in 2003, which seeks answers to poverty in a changing world; the Abdul Latif Jameel Water and Food Systems Lab (J-WAFS), created in 2014, which addresses food and water scarcity and safety issues as the result of population rises and climate change; and the Abdul Latif Jameel Clinic for Machine Learning in Health (J-Clinic), founded in 2018, which focuses on developing machine learning technologies to revolutionize the prevention, detection, and treatment of disease.