With millions of Syrians spilling into Turkey as they flee the conflict tearing their homeland apart, schools are at the frontline of the battle to integrate the newcomers into society. On a crisp spring morning in Gaziantep, the playground of Sehit Karayilan school is abuzz with cheers as eight-year-olds face off in a football tournament. Boys compete with passion on the pitch while girls celebrate the goals with songs and laughter. The south-eastern city is only 70km (43 miles) from Syria and almost half the 1,650 students at the school are Syrian. But you wouldn't know it from watching them.
A group of parents has petitioned education authorities to stop the conversion, collecting hundreds of signatures. Those parents say the change began several years ago with a few Imam Hatip "guest" classes but has since expanded to 1,300 pupils, encroaching on the building where some 3,000 students study in a regular middle school. The mother of a 10-year-old girl at the regular school said she and other parents would continue their fight against the school's conversion. She said it was wrong to force Islam on people. Like several other secularist parents interviewed, the woman declined to give her name.
The Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI), the first graduate-level, research-based artificial intelligence (AI) university in the world, has received immediate interest from graduate students across the globe. So far, 3,200 students have started the application process, including 1,681 potential students in the last step of their application process and 234 completing their applications within the first week of the university's launch on October 16. The majority of applications were received from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, India, and China, a statement said. Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and chairman of the MBZUAI board of trustees, said: "The level of interest in such a short time is a very encouraging sign. MBZUAI is attracting prospective students from around the world, affirming the UAE leadership's vision of investing in human potential and enabling societies through knowledge and education to find practical solutions to some of the biggest challenges in the world, and further establishing the UAE and Abu Dhabi as a global hub for innovation and higher education."
According to media reports more than 3,200 students have applied for the school in the first week admissions were open. Many of the applicants came from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, India, and China. In October Abu Dhabi announced the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence, which will enable graduate students, businesses, and governments to advance AI. The university is named after the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is an advocate for developing human capital through science. The school aims to create a new model of academia and research for AI and to "unleash AI's full potential."
That's the new reality for many classrooms across Abu Dhabi, where a company is using artificial intelligence to create a new learning experience. Established four years ago, Alef Education has managed to get its digital education platform into dozens of schools in Abu Dhabi, as well as Al Ain, another city in the emirate. Alef has worked closely with the government of the United Arab Emirates to bring the platform to 25,000 students at 57 public schools. It is also used in two private schools in Abu Dhabi. And the startup has made its first move into the United States, where its technology is used in two private schools in New York.