Clive Ka-Lun Lee, the Chief Executive Officer of the Yidan Prize Foundation joins the program.
Founded in 2016 by Charles Chen Yidan, two prizes of $3.9 million dollars are awarded each year, one for education research and the other for education development. The goal of the fund, Clive says, is to: "to create a platform for key stakeholders in the education field; basically, to work towards creating a better world. We support outstanding educators who have important research and innovative approaches that can create transformative and sustainable impact on education." The award is made to individuals, but it can also be to groups of up to three. "The money is split into two; half of the money is a social investment. The individuals or groups can decide how best to use this money to support their project or expand its scope in the field of education." The prize is open for anybody, anybody can nominate anybody says Chen. "An individual can even nominate himself".
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of this fund is that it is coming out of Asia. Clive comments: "I think that Asia has become very interesting over the past two decades. The economy has evolved, we have the largest population groups, and education is one of the strongest drivers in the development of our economies….We realize that there is a lack of understanding from the rest of the world about Asia, and we do have a lot to offer of just about everything. We are not only interested in connecting the West with the East, but also South to North, East to West, North to South. I think it is important to see development happening in different dimensions…. I would say that there is some new energy flowing from Asia for financing new models in education. Traditionally, America has been the source of new forms of technology and philanthropy, but now we shouldn't overlook Asia. We hope that we can create a bridge to different parts of the world." Certainly, the award is raising a few eyebrows in international education circles as most of the prizes and finances available for educational research and development has hitherto been flowing from the West to the East.
The prize was established by an endowment from founder Charles Chen Yidan five years ago, with the remiss: "to establish a prize for humanity beyond politics and nationality", thus the fund if not interested in supporting any individual or group that is interested in promoting a political agenda. The prize is financed by an independent trust, which is managed by committee members, from international agencies including the World Bank and UNESCO, but these people are not involved in the judging process, Clive says.
Last year's Education Research Laureate was made to award was made to Carol S. Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford. Her research identified different mindsets that students can hold about their talents and abilities. The research then demonstrates the importance of these mindsets for students' motivation, resilience, and achievement-particularly for students from vulnerable populations.
The Education Development prize was awarded to Vicky Colbert, a Sociologist from Javeriana University in Colombia. She pioneered, expanded and sustained the worldwide renowned Escuela Nueva model, which is a renowned pedagogical model centered around the needs of the student that transforms conventional, teacher-centered schools to achieve high quality education. It is one of the longest running bottom-up innovative educational programs in the developing world.
The Yidan Foundation also runs a conference the ‘Yidan Prize Summit' in Hong Kong every year in December, when the prize winners are announced. The conference is a format to discuss international education issues, and in particular, the question of how change can be achieved. Their plans do not stop there. This year the fund will also be organizing an Asia-Pacific conference with the collaboration of the University of Hong Kong, and the Foundation intends to hold conferences in Europe and America with the collaboration of Harvard and Cambridge universities. The fund has also initiated an education index together with the Economist Intelligence Unit called ‘The Worldwide Educating for the Future Index', whereby different economies are measured in terms of how they equip their students with skills they will need for the future.
Clearly, the idea of funding for educational research and development projects coming out of Asia is new, but perhaps something we should get used to in the multipolar world we now live in.
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