After the resounding success in the first edition of the Gifted Arabs initiative, the King Abdulaziz and His Companions Foundation for Giftedness and Creativity (Mawhiba) and the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization on Wednesday launched its second edition.
The announcement was made during a ceremony, held in honor of the winners of the first version of the initiative, which was launched last April.
The event was held in Riyadh under the patronage of Prince Badr bin Abdullah bin Farhan Al-Saud, minister of culture and chairman of the National Committee for Education, Culture and Science.
Speaking to Arab News, Mawhiba Secretary-General Dr. Saud bin Saeed Al-Mathami said that Mawhiba is a leading international institution in discovering, nurturing, and empowering talented students.
“Mawhiba has the most comprehensive talent-nurturing program in the world. In cooperation with the Education and Training Evaluation Commission, Mawhiba has developed a scientific scale for discovering Arab talents, taking into account the various cultural differences,” he said.
In his speech at the launch, Al-Mathami said that there should be an Arabic program to take advantage of artificial intelligence, technology, and the Internet, pointing out that such a project requires cooperation between students, families, schools, and governments.
Al-Mathami stressed that Mawhiba is a Saudi success story, and that Saudi Arabia has shared its experience in discovering, nurturing, and investing in talented young people to pursue a prosperous Arab world.
Addressing students all over the region, Al-Mathami said: “The era of teacher-centered classrooms has ended, and the task has moved from teachers and schools to the learners themselves. With their talent, these students will transfer societies to the horizons of progress and advancement.”
Addressing teachers and school officials in the Arab world, the secretary-general urged them to pay attention to “students who show boredom” in class, and to “provide additional enrichment programs, give them more time to develop their abilities and skills, and direct their talent to the academic fields that suit their talent.
“When a student is classified as ‘talented’ in a certain field, their personality will drastically change once they know about their talents. Their determination and thinking will also rise to higher levels.”
In his speech, Al-Mathami added that talented students normally need qualitative programs that take them to wider horizons, and develop their passion.
“With such programs, not only the talented people or their countries would benefit from their creativity, but also humanity and the whole world will reap the fruits of these gifted people’s minds.”
Al-Mathami then, along with Hani Al-Moqbel, the executive director at ALECSO, honored talented students and representatives of the ministries of education participating in the initiative from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Palestine, Qatar, Yemen, Libya, Jordan, Iraq, Mauritania, Bahrain, and Oman.
In the 2021 edition of the initiative, some 230 Arab students scored the highest marks, representing 12 countries, with 57 students from Saudi Arabia, two from the UAE, 34 from Bahrain, eight from Qatar, 30 from Oman, 12 from Palestine, 20 from Jordan, 15 from Iraq, two from Yemen, 15 from Tunisia, nine from Mauritania and 26 from Libya.
These gifted students were divided into three categories: Exceptional talents, talented students, and promising ones. Mawhiba last year said it would provide a package of programs to develop the capabilities of the qualified Arab talents.
The foundation added that it would also provide the “exceptional talents” with several in-person and remote care programs, including an excellence program for enrollment in prestigious universities.
According to Al-Mathami, the support would also include offering counseling, guidance, leadership programs, and the Mawhiba Universal Enrichment Program and Mawhiba Academic Enrichment Program, which cover scientific studies and skills of the 21st century.
The secretary-general added that the students in the “promising talent” category would be enrolled in the Mawhiba Academic Enrichment Program remotely. He told Arab News that Mawhiba “strongly believes in the role that school teachers can play in developing talented students.”
He added: “School teachers are our main partners. Mawhiba has so far trained more than 200,000 teachers systemically. These teachers have helped in training their colleague teachers in their schools.”
Al-Mathami said that most of the talented students Mawhiba has discovered were a result of this “fruitful” partnership.
“All our teachers should further learn how to discover talented students in classrooms so that we don’t lose a talent that should have been spotted and nurtured,” he said.
Meanwhile, Al-Mathami revealed that Mawhiba is collaborating with the Saudi Ministry of Culture to launch a national project that focuses on discovering creative people in the Kingdom.
Mawhiba provides enrichment programs in more than 20 scientific tracks, including mechanical engineering, aviation, robotics, electrical engineering, space and more. Its students have won 456 international awards and 83 awards at the International Science and Engineering Fair, of which 53 were medals and certificates of appreciation awarded in 2021.