UAE, the Global Winner of the AHA! Hackathon for Youth: The Future of Education is Now. “Something has to be done”.

Aya and Amjad Jzaerli, 13 years of age, UAE, global winners of the AHA! Hackathon for Youth: The Future of Education is Now, that took place in Helsingborg, Sweden, September 10-13, 2021.

“We believe that the current system of education must be reformed due to a sharp decrease in creativity. Based on the background of competencies we learned about in the hackathon process, we have come up with a few ideas on how to make education more suitable for us and the future generation. 

We think that education must include little to no instructions at all, and depend on exploration. Exploration is a lot more exciting than just sitting down and being lectured and forced to follow only given steps with no choice. Teachers must be role models to children, they should motivate them towards curiosity. Curiosity makes them release their potential to ask and explore further. 

We expect teachers to give students more space to express themselves and cope with their negative emotions and become resilient. Educators should not target and judge students, this will decrease the self esteem of the students and they will feel less motivated, thus putting less effort. Students should be allowed to take short breaks whenever they feel like doing so.

We want to collaborate on different levels. When students work together, they discuss and share perspectives, which increases their social skills. 

We need space for creativity in schools. Students can be more creative and innovative if they are allowed to choose their own ways of doing an assignment.

We advocate for promoting physical education and healthy diet. They not only solve mental and physical health issues, but they also build self-confidence and responsibility within the student. Physical education is a vital part of our lives and it shouldn’t be ignored whatsoever.

We also think that we have to change timings, places, and routines throughout the week. We must expose our brain to change, otherwise it could end up in poor self and time management.

We demonstrated that the youth can use mobile in meaningful ways, please trust us. “

This is Aya:

Tell us about yourselves and the school that you are attending.

My name is Aya Jzaerli, born in Ukraine, Poltava. I moved to the UAE when I was about 6 years old. Currently, I’m studying in Al Durrah International School. 

What is your motivation to be part of this Hackathon?

Seeing how knowledge can be used in different ways to study and learn. Since I was in middle school, I was only introduced to the typical type of learning, where the teacher explains and I had to later on do an exam. However, entering this Hackathon, I’m excited to be working with my twin brother and learn in a unique way and at the same time do some activities together.  

What do we need to keep, develop and bin, within education and learning, as they are 2021?

In 2021, I think we need to keep the interesting resources we found during our struggles in Distance learning. Then we could develop these resources and use them in a way we change the typical teaching way… perhaps the students can explore the answer on their own using a stimulation (if it were Physics class for example). Then, they could figure out the law used in that simulation, later on the students who understood can help out students who struggled. Lastly, I would bin the rule that the teacher should be talking the whole period and all students should do is understand and ace the exam. Plus, I would bin the classic look of classrooms where every individual sits in their own places without having the permission to move around. I believe learning is all about exploring, that’s how it can be interesting and understandable. Therefore, I think teachers should just give out materials and some simple instructions and let students do their job by uncovering the lesson. 

How shall we make sure that young people are more heard in the context of the reimagining of education? 

Teachers should leave room for students to ask. I, myself, is tired of hearing, “you’re only allowed to talk only when the teachers tell you to” And everytime the teacher points me out to talk, I do get anxiety and start getting nervous with all those eyes looking at me, perhaps judging me, waiting if i’ll either get it right or wrong. For us to get heard, I think the teacher should leave the opportunity for us to talk and ask whenever we have a query. This way, we can express ourselves more, and I think even the teacher can benefit and figure out who got the idea and who didn’t. Since in the rule “you don’t talk unless the teacher asks”, you can’t see which students got it or not since they feel like they aren’t heard in that type of approach. 

This is Amjad:

Tell us about yourselves and the school that you are attending.

My name is Amjad Jzaerli, I am 13 years old. I was born in Poltava, Ukraine. Currently, I live in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates and I study there as well. The school I am attending is called Al Durrah International School which is not far from Dubai, and it is a NEASC candidate as of now.

What is your motivation to be part of this Hackathon?

Changing the education system, allowing people to be more open, and increasing happiness within the education system.

What do we need to keep, develop and bin, within education and learning, as they are 2021?

We have to keep our voices and courage to speak against anything that defies our will. We have to develop group/peer works, foreseeing and forethinking, and develop the strength of the bond created within the school environment.

How shall we make sure that young people are more heard in the context of the reimagining of education?

As mentioned previously, the young people must know how to object, suggest, and implement. Currently we can make sure that all school staff are open minded and can handle different points of view. We can also suggest to them “school management” to open a new position in order to feel more free to express ideas and new suggestions, even if they are bizarre ones.


This is the winning video! Please check it out and share it!

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