Dr Rukmini Banerji and Professor Eric A. Hanushek have been awarded the 2021 Yidan Prize, the world’s highest education accolade, in recognition of their ground-breaking work addressing a crucial piece of the education puzzle: improving quality of education and outcomes for learners at scale.
Following a rigorous judging process, conducted by an independent judging committee of recognized education experts, Dr Rukmini Banerji and Professor Eric A. Hanushek were selected as the recipients of the 2021 Yidan Prize for Education Research and Yidan Prize for Education Development. They will join nine laureates who have been awarded the Yidan Prize since its inception in 2016, established by the Yidan Prize Foundation – a global philanthropic education foundation that inspires progress and change in education.
Supporting 2021 laureates to improve teaching quality and learning outcomes
Dr Rukmini Banerji, Chief Executive Officer of the Pratham Education Foundation, is awarded the 2021 Yidan Prize for Education Development for her work in improving learning outcomes. The Annual Status of Education Report (ASER) assessment approach, pioneered by Dr Banerji and her team in India, revealed literacy and numeracy gaps among children who had already spent several years at school. To close these gaps, her team’s “Teaching at the Right Level” (TaRL) program works with schools and local communities to provide basic reading and arithmetic skills, ensuring no children are left behind. This systematic, replicable model reaches millions of children annually across the country and is spreading around the globe.
“Dr Rukmini Banerji and the Pratham team have a clear mission: ‘Every child in school and learning well’. A reminder that we need to focus on education quality and not just school enrolments. The solutions that they have deployed towards this goal have proven to be cost-effective and scalable with a demonstrated potential to impact globally—disruptive education innovation with transformative results”, said Dorothy K. Gordon, head of Yidan Prize for Education Development judging panel, and Board Member of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education.
With the support of the Yidan Prize, Dr Banerji plans to strengthen and expand Pratham’s work with young children so that strong foundations can be built early in a child’s life. Dr Banerji believes this will contribute significantly towards the goal of seeing “every child in school and learning well”.
Professor Eric A. Hanushek, Paul and Jean Hanna Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution of Stanford University, is awarded the 2021 Yidan Prize for Education Research. His work focuses on education outcomes and the importance of teaching quality and has transformed both research and policy internationally. His work helped shape the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4 (ensure inclusive and equitable quality education) by reframing targets for learning outcomes and has shown that it’s how much students learn – and not how many years they spend in school – that boosts economies.
“Like no one else, Eric has been able to link the fields of economics and education. From designing better and fairer systems for evaluating teacher performance to linking better learning outcomes to long-run economic and social progress, he has made an amazing range of education policy areas amenable to rigorous economic analysis.” said Mr Andreas Schleicher, head of the Yidan Prize for Education Research judging panel.
With the Yidan Prize funding, Professor Hanushek is planning a research fellow program in Africa, supporting analytical capacity to shape education policies from a local perspective.
Most diverse pool of prize nominations to date
“The quality and diversity of this year’s nominations reflect the drive and passion around the world to unlock new approaches to education. Our nominees are working on projects that span over 130 countries and territories. They are rethinking education systems from top to bottom, tackling inequities and empowering learners,” Dr Koichiro Matsuura, Chairman of the Yidan Prize Judging Committee and the former Director-General of UNESCO commented.
“We are also delighted to welcome five new judges to our panel — adding new perspectives and strengthening the voices of both women and representatives from more diverse regions to discuss big ideas from some of the world’s brightest minds.”
The Yidan Prize community is making an impact on global education challenges
Each laureate will be awarded HK$30 million (approximately US$3.9 million), half of which is a project fund – enabling a series of innovative and progressive education projects to scale up and support millions of learners globally.
All Yidan Prize laureates will join the Yidan Council of Luminaries to work collaboratively with distinguished education leaders. The Council works together and speaks with a collective voice to shed light on the importance of restoring and rethinking education with innovative ideas. Sharing a diversity of expertise and insights, they: have contributed to the UNESCO Futures of Education initiative on how schools can prepare for the future; are working with the Global Mindset Initiative to build a foundation for a growth mindset research to achieve quality education for students globally; have spoken at high-level conferences such as the Asian Development Bank’s International Skills Forum, to discuss the latest education innovations needed for a new normal.
2022 Yidan Prize nominations open on 19 October
Now in its fifth year, the Yidan Prize has attracted many high-quality nominations, with projects reaching and positively impacting learners globally, representing diverse perspectives, cultures and geographies. Nominations for the 2022 Yidan Prize will be open from 19 October 2021 until March 2022.
Meanwhile, the 2021 laureates will be formally recognized at the Yidan Prize Awards Presentation Ceremony and the Yidan Prize Annual Summit held on 5 December 2021.