Ask anyone, anywhere and they will probably tell you how important education is. From the world’s most under-resourced communities to the offices of Prime Ministers, education is the rare issue on which there’s nearly universal agreement – that investments from early childhood learning to aerospace engineering can lift millions out of poverty, advance science, save lives and drive economies.
That universal understanding makes it noteworthy, if not odd, that there is so little connective tissue and virtually no policy cohesiveness among the countries and cultures that do the work of education. It’s surprisingly difficult, for example, to highlight and replicate the new ideas, technologies and leaders that are improving education. In most cases, that work is left to small groups of advocates, non-profit groups, foundations and journalists.
That means that even though we collectively value education, we struggle to share much of anything else about it.
The disconnect has never been more apparent and more detrimental than the year 2020, with education systems around the world in the midst of one of the most significant disruption in centuries, maybe even ever. Even though every single school and learning platform is facing similar challenges right now, shared solutions, even shared communication and collaboration, are increasingly implausible. In other words, at the exact moment when innovation and risk-taking and inspiration are most needed, finding and sharing solutions is as difficult as ever. This is a gap that will hobble education recoveries and dim the promise of inclusive and long-term access to quality education for all.
That means we urgently need education role models and entrepreneurs to design solutions to our current crisis as well as ways to amplify their ideas and their work.
The WISE Prize, awarded by Qatar Foundation, has been discovering and elevating for the world to see such role models for a decade.
Established in 2011 the WISE Prize for Education is the first distinction of its kind to recognize an individual or a team for an outstanding, world-class contribution to education.
That’s important on its own. But a further mission of the Prize is to enhance the prestige of education accomplishment, placing it on par with similar international prizes in areas such as literature, peace and economics.
This year, the prize has never been more necessary.
As former WISE Prize Laureates, we well know the importance of recognizing education leaders and the worldwide credibility the Prize draws not only to ourselves but also to our varied education approaches, programs and practices.
We know that education leaders and ideas need opportunities to be found and the privilege of being given an audience. We also know that innovations and advancements in teaching and learning exist everywhere and may come from anywhere. For example, the last seven Laureates come from Ghana, Afghanistan, the United Kingdom, Colombia, Bangladesh, India and the United States.
Because of our experience and the urgency of meeting the growing challenges and harnessing opportunities in education, we encourage individuals, organizations and institutions to help us on this missing to elevate education heroes; by nominating leaders they know who are changing education and are catalysts for systemic change by creating innovative solutions to local or international education challenges.
We know the next Prize Laureate will be a voice for change and improvement in the world of education. And we need the world to help us find and put under the spotlight the innovators who have devoted their life to addressing education challenges
Whether they’re a teacher going above and beyond, an entrepreneur with a scalable solution to a persistent problem, the founder or leader of a school or powerful education organization, we ask that you give them a chance — their ideas and efforts a chance — to be recognized and rewarded by nominating them for the WISE Prize for Education.
We know that the power and impact of education is simultaneously universal and beneficial. And we believe that breakthroughs and advancements in teaching and learning merit their place on the highest global stage, alongside those in other fields. We also believe that the process of advancing education is active, collaborative and in need of consistent investment and that every country, community and resident should have the opportunity to benefit from the education work and leadership of others.
Perhaps those points are as obvious as the nearly universal agreement that education is important, a point on which consensus is easy. That does not make any of it less true or less impactful. On the contrary, it may make the role of education prizes and recognitions such as the WISE Prize for Education all the more important.
The WISE Prize for Education Call for Nominations is open until February 1, 2021.
This piece is co-signed by all former recipients of the WISE Prize, including:
Dr. Sakena Yacoobi, founder of the Afghan Institute of Learning (Afghanistan) – 2015
Ms Ann Cotton, OBE, Founder & board member of CAMFED (UK) – 2014
Ms Vicky Colbert, Founder and Director of Fundación Escuela Nueva (Colombia) – 2013
Dr. Madhav Chavan, Co-founder and CEO of Pratham (India) – 2012
Ms Tamara Hasan Abed, Managing Director, BRAC Enterprises, Chairperson, Board of Trustees, BRAC University, Daughter of Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Bangladesh, Founder and Chairman of BRAC who was presented with the inaugural WISE Prize for Education in 2011