MIT Announces Creation of Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab

(Photo Credit:Bryce Vickmark, MIT)


The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Community Jameel May 2 announced the creation of the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab.

Community Jameel was established and is chaired by Mohammed Abdul Latif Jameel, a graduate of MIT in 1978.

The new lab, a global collaborative effort, will help educators, universities, governments and companies revolutionize the effectiveness and reach of education, and aims to help prepare people everywhere for a labor market radically altered by technological progress, globalization and the pursuit of higher living standards around the world, according to an MIT news release.

“For years, Community Jameel’s commitment to finding practical solutions to complex global problems has inspired all of us at MIT,” MIT president L. Rafael Reif said in a statement. “With J-WEL, Community Jameel builds on that extraordinary legacy with an effort that will empower learners around the world and in the United States, opening educational pathways that are currently closed to millions.”

J-WEL will be an anchor entity within MIT’s open education and learning initiatives that are led by MIT’s Indian American vice president for open learning Sanjay Sarma.

The three special interest groups integral to J-WEL’s mission — pre-K–12, higher education, and workplace learning — will each have faculty leads, according to MIT.

Professors Angela Belcher and Eric Klopfer will direct pre-K–12, and Prof. Hazel Sive will direct the higher education special interest group. A workplace learning faculty director will be named soon.

M.S. Vijay Kumar, MIT’s associate dean of digital learning, will serve as J-WEL’s executive director and will work closely with the faculty leads. Faculty will receive J-WEL grants for research related to this initiative. J-WEL will also draw on existing educational resources at MIT, including the MIT Integrated Learning Initiative and Office of Digital Learning, to research and apply what works best in the education of children, university students and workers, MIT said.

“Education and learning are fundamental to a strong society and economy — they promote employment and create increased opportunity for all. While there has been progress made in improving education, there is always more that can be done,” Fady Mohammed Jameel, president of Community Jameel International, said in a statement.

“Enabling individuals to do their very best and reach their full potential, whatever their background, is a key priority for Community Jameel and the world. That is exactly why we are establishing the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab with MIT.”

The lab will foster new initiatives and build a powerful collaborative of schools, governments, nongovernmental organizations, philanthropists and businesses.

Building on MIT’s historic footprint in education at the childhood level, in the collaborative formation of new universities and in the education of professionals, J-WEL will work with its global collaborators to improve the delivery and quality of educational opportunities using new digital, maker, and in-person “mind-and-hand” approaches to learning, MIT said.

Early examples of MIT efforts in this arena include work at the high school level across India with the Tata Trusts, on teacher education with the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, improvements to workplace learning at Accenture, and expanded educational reach in the Arab world with the Abdulla Al Ghurair Foundation for Education, it added.

“(Tata) Trusts are also collaborating with the Tata Center for Education and Design at MIT to apply technical talent to address challenges in development,” R. Venkataramanan, managing trustee of the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust in India, said. “We look forward to J-WEL breaking new ground through applied research in education in India and the world.”

The gift is part of MIT’s current $5 billion Campaign for a Better World and is consistent with Community Jameel’s focus on creating a better future. The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, established in 2003, seeks answers to poverty in a changing world. The Abdul Latif Jameel World Water and Food Security Lab, established in 2014, seeks answers to food and water scarcity issues as the population rises and global warming takes hold, according to MIT.

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