The in­au­gu­ral Yidan Prize Sum­mit in 2017 brought to­gether more than 350 global ed­u­ca­tion lead­ers, both to cel­e­brate the largest ed­u­ca­tional prize in the world and dis­cuss fu­ture chal­lenges.

The Australian Education Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - EMMA DAVIES

DR Charles Chen Yidan, co-founder of Chi­nese in­ter­net giant Ten­cent, es­tab­lished the Yidan Prize Foun­da­tion in 2016 with the mis­sion of cre­at­ing a bet­ter world through ed­u­ca­tion.

“One night in 2013 I wrote in my di­ary that I would set up a prize for ed­u­ca­tion that tran­scends race, re­li­gion and na­tion­al­ity,” Dr Chen said.

Since then, Dr Chen has worked to cre­ate a global plat­form to learn the best prac­tices and con­cepts in ed­u­ca­tion that could be scaled and repli­cated around the world.

The Yidan Prize recog­nises and sup­ports change mak­ers for their for­ward look­ing in­no­va­tion to cre­ate sus­tain­able im­pacts on ed­u­ca­tion sys­tems.

The two cat­e­gories are the Yidan Prize for Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search and the Yidan Prize for Ed­u­ca­tion De­vel­op­ment, each car­ry­ing an award of $US3.97 mil­lion – four times that of the No­bel Prize.

The in­au­gu­ral lau­re­ates, Pro­fes­sor Carol S. Dweck of Stan­ford Univer­sity and Vicky Col­bert, founder and di­rec­tor of Fun­dación Es­cuela Nueva in Colom­bia each re­ceived $US1.9 mil­lion in cash and $US1.9 mil­lion in the form of fund­ing for their work.

Dr Chen said that the goal of the Prize and Sum­mit was for the global com­mu­nity to en­gage in con­ver­sa­tion around ed­u­ca­tion and to play a role in ed­u­ca­tion phi­lan­thropy.

“Ed­u­ca­tion is so im­por­tant be­cause it’s a huge driver for so­cio-de­vel­op­ment,” Dr Chen said.

“This kind of in­ter­na­tional prize ac­tu­ally pro­motes the best the­o­ries and best prac­tices for ed­u­ca­tion.”

“Ed­u­ca­tion has so many stake­hold­ers from pol­icy mak­ers, peo­ple work­ing on the front line of ed­u­ca­tion, and in­vestors. We need to get ev­ery­one on a sin­gle plat­form where they can share ideas and talk about their opin­ions about the fu­ture of ed­u­ca­tion,” he said.

It’s no sur­prise that Sci­ence, Tech­nol­ogy, En­gi­neer­ing and Math­e­mat­ics (STEM) was high on the agenda, with ed­u­ca­tors de­bat­ing how cod­ing and tech­nol­ogy could be im­ple­mented in the class­room and the im­por­tance of ad­e­quate teacher train­ing.

Dr Chen em­pha­sised that tech­nol­ogy could im­pact ed­u­ca­tion pos­i­tively but that there was room for im­prove­ment in cur­ricu­lums and school man­age­ment sys­tems to pre­pare for fu­ture ed­u­ca­tion tech­nolo­gies.

Over the next three years the Yidan Prize Foun­da­tion will fol­low up on the lau­re­ates’ projects, to dis­cover best prac­tices and meth­ods that could be repli­cated in other ed­u­ca­tional sys­tems world­wide.

Nom­i­na­tions for the 2018 Yidan Prize close on the 31st of March.


Vicky Col­bert was the for­mer Vice Min­is­ter of Ed­u­ca­tion in Colom­bia and founded the Fun­dación Es­cuela Nueva, train­ing teach­ers in more than 20,000 ru­ral schools at a time when drug war vi­o­lence was at its high­est.

“Latin Amer­ica is a coun­try with a lot of in­equal­ity, so I wanted to push for so­cial change through ed­u­ca­tion,” Ms Col­bert said.

Es­cuela Nueva pro­motes a class­room en­vi­ron­ment where stu­dents ac­tively learn, par­tic­i­pate, and col­lab­o­rate, as well as strength­en­ing the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the school and the com­mu­nity.

The model has been shown to im­prove re­ten­tion and aca­demic achieve­ment and lower the rate of grade rep­e­ti­tion and dropout.

In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity and lack of re­sources were an is­sue but Es­cuela Nueva adapted by cre­ated learn­ing ma­te­ri­als that com­bined the text­book, the work­book, and guide for the teacher.

The am­bi­tion was to reach as many chil­dren as pos­si­ble, but some ru­ral schools were avoided due to the pres­ence of the Revo­lu­tion­ary Armed Forces of Colom­bia (Farc).

“I feel that the out­laws saw the im­por­tance of ed­u­ca­tion,” Ms Col­bert said.

“They knew that poor ru­ral chil­dren could re­ceive ben­e­fits and so we never re­ceived ag­gres­sions, but we knew we had to be care­ful when we sent teach­ers to train other teach­ers.”

With multi-grade classes and a sin­gle teacher, ru­ral schools strug­gling with tra­di­tional teacher cen­tric class­rooms ben­e­fit­ted from a more flex­i­ble cur­ricu­lum.

“I think this is one of the strengths of Es­cuala Nueva be­cause you can re­spect dif­fer­ent learn­ing rhythms in the class­room,” Ms Col­bert said.

“Some kids are learn­ing faster, some are a lit­tle bit slower and need more sup­port from their peers – so it’s a lot of peer tu­tor­ing and col­lab­o­ra­tion.”

Ms Col­bert sees ap­pli­ca­tions for her pro­gram around the world; in ur­ban ar­eas, for dis­placed peo­ples, for teacher train­ing and in any school that could ben­e­fit from stu­dents de­vel­op­ing val­ues and demo­cratic, peace­ful be­hav­iour.

To date Es­cuela Nueva has been adopted in Brazil, Colom­bia, Chile, El Sal­vador, the Philip­pines, Gu­atemala, Guyana, Hon­duras, Mex­ico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Do­mini­can Repub­lic, Uganda, India, Viet­nam and Ti­mor.


Lewis and Vir­ginia Ea­ton Pro­fes­sor of Psy­chol­ogy at Stan­ford Univer­sity Dr Carol Dweck is a lead­ing re­searcher in the field of mo­ti­va­tion, fo­cus­ing on the im­por­tance of growth mind­sets for stu­dents’ re­silience and achieve­ment.

“Mind­sets are in­flu­enced by a be­lief about your­self, about your abil­i­ties, the na­ture of your abil­i­ties, the work­ings of your abil­i­ties,” Dr Dweck said.

“Peo­ple are al­ways com­par­ing them­selves to oth­ers, mea­sur­ing them­selves, feel­ing they’re de­fi­cient, feel­ing they’ll never be ad­mired or ac­cepted but we are all works in progress.”

When stu­dents have a growth mind­set they be­lieve they can get smarter, they un­der­stand that ef­fort makes them stronger, and they put in ex­tra time and ef­fort which leads to higher achieve­ment.

For schools to im­ple­ment growth mind­set de­vel­op­ment for their stu­dents, Dr Dweck said it was im­por­tant to re­alise we are not purely a fixed mind­set per­son or a growth mind­set per­son, but that ev­ery­one is a mix­ture.

“They’re both nat­u­ral to us. The fixed mind­set ac­tu­ally grew up to watch over us and pro­tect us be­cause we want to be val­i­dated, we want to be re­spected, we don’t want to do things that will make peo­ple think we’re de­fi­cient.

“We need to work with it rather than deny it.”

Dr Dweck’s re­search has shown that teacher prac­tice has an im­pact on stu­dent mind­set. Prais­ing stu­dents or telling chil­dren they are smart en­cour­ages a fixed mind­set, whereas prais­ing hard work and ef­fort cul­ti­vates a growth mind­set.

Putting the con­cept into the con­text of neu­ro­science is an­other way to en­cour­age stu­dents to de­velop Im­ages: Robert a growth Frith mind­sets. – Acorn Photo.

“Neu­ro­science shows the abil­ity of the brain to change, grow and even re­or­gan­ise with learn­ing and ex­pe­ri­ence. So what does that tell us about our stu­dents and their ca­pa­bil­i­ties?” Dr Dweck said.

“I think [flex­i­bil­ity] is one of the strengths of Es­cuela Nueva be­cause you can re­spect dif­fer­ent learn­ing rhythms in the class­room.”

Yidan Prize founder Dr Charles Chen Yidan.

Prize win­ner Vicky Col­bert (left).

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