GEMS Education and 8billionideas forge three-year strategic partnership to enhance skills and entrepreneurship among students

5 July 2023
  • Partnership extends 8billionideas EdTech resources to GEMS schools in UAE and Qatar
  • Resources focus on promoting entrepreneurship, skills for the future, careers, wellbeing
  • Teaching staff also set to benefit from professional development modules and coaching

GEMS Education students now have access to dynamic real-world careers and entrepreneurship programmes thanks to GEMS’ strategic partnership with innovative EdTech company 8billionideas.

The two organisations have been collaborating since the beginning of 2022 and recently signed a formal long-term agreement aimed at enhancing the learning experience of students across the GEMS network in the UAE and Qatar.

8billionideas, a UK-based education technology company, equips young people with diverse transferable skills in entrepreneurship that will support them in their future endeavours. The company’s cutting-edge educational content focusses on four key areas: entrepreneurship, career education, skills for the future, and performance and wellbeing.

GEMS Education is committed to ensuring that the high-quality education delivered in all 43 of its schools in the UAE and Qatar prepares young people for the fast-paced and ever-changing world that awaits them after graduation. By accessing 8billionideas’ broad and deep online platform of videos, live classes and mentoring sessions, teachers in GEMS schools will be further empowered to bring real world-of-work concepts into the classroom to prepare students for the future.

Dino Varkey, Group Chief Executive Officer, GEMS Education, said: “This strategic partnership strikes at the heart of two core pillars of GEMS Education – innovative education delivery and preparing our learners for the future. I’m delighted to officially welcome 8billionideas into the GEMS ecosystem, as I’m convinced that these programmes will offer our students and staff access to exciting, fresh, and valuable content and experiences.”

David Harkin, CEO and Co-founder of 8billionideas, said: “The word excitement only begins to express how the team at 8billionideas and I feel about our new unique long-term strategic partnership with GEMS Education. The two organisations have come together to form a partnership that will not only add further to GEMS students’ skills and belief that they can change the world at a critical time, but also demonstrate to global education what partnerships can achieve if open-mindedness, transparency, ambition and like-minded values combine to achieve something very special.

“Our work in the next academic year will impact over 100,000 students in many different ways as we continue to dive into the world of entrepreneurship, career education, skills for the future, and performance and wellbeing – something both GEMS and 8billionideas believe is no longer extra, but critical to every child. Roll on what will be a game-changing period in education!”

During the 2022-23 academic year, eight GEMS schools and some 25,000 students were engaging with 8billionideas. The new strategic partnership aims to extend this impact to over 100,000 GEMS students in the next academic year, with ambitions to further expand the year after.

GEMS schools in the UAE and Qatar have already integrated 8billionideas’ programmes into their teaching approach. This follows 8billionideas’ partnership with former England Rugby coach Sir Clive Woodward and International Ski Academy Apex2100 to create the ‘Perform Better’ programme that takes the best lessons and learnings from the world of elite sports and adapts them to education.

Ten high-performing learners in Years 10 to 13 at GEMS Cambridge International School – Abu Dhabi (CIA) participated in Perform Better’s four-day online summer programme. They had the opportunity to explore the impact that physical health and fitness has on mental performance, how the mind operates when managing adversity and anxiety, and habit-building using cognitive science to learn the skills and habits that embed success. The students also met with Sir Clive during his visit to GEMS schools in March.

Maahira Siddiqui, a Year 11 student at CIA who took part in the programme, said: “Perform Better was enthralling; each day was packed with fascinating information and remarkable tips to guide us through our academic and personal lives. I especially enjoyed the second day, titled ‘Ascension’, which focused on physical health, diet, and nutrition. It was really eye opening for me, as I had never realised how vital a good diet is for a well-functioning brain. It made me more attentive to what I eat and aided me to make better choices.”

Through the partnership with 8billionideas, every GEMS school will have the autonomy to weave 8billionideas programmes into their existing curriculum to create age-appropriate and customised programmes suitable for their school. The infusion of 8billionideas into core subject learning will enhance, elevate, and energise class time, helping students learn and enquire efficiently.

Maryssa O’Connor, Senior Vice President – Education and Principal/CEO of GEMS Wellington International School, said: “Parents across the GEMS network continue to emphasise the importance of preparing students for life, and we are listening and responding. The necessary agility required to ensure students are well prepared for university and the workplace is a challenge for schools, and one that cannot be met purely through a regular curriculum offering. Embedding focused and active opportunities for students to explore skills and attributes, experiences, and collaborations is crucial for our students.”

GEMS teachers will also benefit from personal development modules and in-person coaching from David Harkin and the 8billionideas team.

By helping senior students gain apprenticeships, internships, and even start a business, the partnership with 8billionideas will also help advance the work of GEMS For Life with its mission to support students both while at school and long after graduation.

To find out more about 8billionideas, listen to GEMS Education’s School of Thought podcast, where David Harkin shares his passion for innovative education with a focus on entrepreneurship, creativity and problem-solving.

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