The WISE Prize for Education


Sir Fazle Hasan Abed

Position: Founder and Chairperson of BRAC
Country: Bangladesh
Born in 1936, Sir Fazle Hasan Abed completed his secondary education in Dhaka and went on to study at the University of Glasgow. He trained as a management accountant in London and came back to his homeland to eventually lead the finance division of Shell Oil Company there. 

He returned to the UK during the 1971 Bangladesh war of independence from Pakistan where he lobbied and raised funds for his country’s struggle.  After the conflict he found the newly born country in ruins. It was then that, using his own savings, he established the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC) and launched a lifelong campaign to improve lives by educating the rural poor, now reaching nearly 140 million people in nine countries.

Over more than 40 years BRAC has become one of the largest non-government providers of education in the world and has contributed directly to the education of more than 10 million students at a variety of levels. BRAC concentrates on bringing education to children and young people who are not reached by the traditional education system. 

Currently, around 750,000 children – 70 per cent of them girls – are enrolled in 25,000 BRAC primary schools in Bangladesh. Pass rates are significantly higher than in the formal primary schools system and virtually all go on to learn in secondary schools. BRAC has expanded its work to pre-primary education, post-primary and continuing education, and has established an adolescent development center for girls. 

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed was the first Laureate of the WISE Prize for Education in 2011.