As the new academic year begins, Qatar Foundation Vice Chair and CEO talks about inspiring others by reflecting the values of flexibility and self-motivated learning

The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged us all to see if we can be ‘self-motivated learners’, says HE Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice Chair and CEO of Qatar Foundation (QF).

As the new academic year begins – with schools and universities all over the country starting to welcome back students – HE Sheikha Hind is urging the community to display the values of ‘flexibility, adaptability, and continuous lifelong learning’ to empower and inspire students to do the same.

We live in very interesting times, and one thing we always want to instil in our students is the notion of continuous learning and flexibility.

She said that the value in our graduates is the way they support their communities and the nation, and the values we hope they take away with them are being active citizens and nation-builders. More than ever now, she emphasised how the country needs them and how organisations need them.

We have students to be proud of and we know they will make a great impact wherever they go. The important thing for us is to ensure that we continue to instil these values in our students year-on-year, and we do that by role-modelling: ensuring we are as flexible as we want them to be and that we are the self-motivated learners we want them to be.

HE Sheikha Hind believes it will be ‘exciting to see what education will look like in the coming years: We are seeing different models around the world, and we are learning from them and seeing what works best for us.

She said that this pandemic has really tested whether we are self-motivated learners. If we don’t have traditional learning infrastructure in place, are we still getting up every morning and trying to learn something new?

Pandemics don’t come easily, and they don’t come frequently, so it’s important for us to understand that we are in a very surreal situation and find ways of continuing education during this time. It’s also important to recognise that we now have some big opportunities on the table, from education, to the way we work, and even to the way we live.

That means we should take time to reflect, understand, and really be informed about what the future could look like; and we should take risks, because that is the way we continue to innovate and grow. And it is time to really disrupt education.