Hedges of the U.S. and India’s Agarwal Named Yidan Prize Laureates 2018
15 September 2018, Hong Kong – The Yidan Prize, the world’s largest prize in education, announces its 2018 laureates. Larry V. HEDGES has been awarded the Yidan Prize for Education Research for his ground-breaking statistical methods for meta-analysis, while Anant AGARWAL has been granted the Yidan Prize for Education Development for making education more accessible to people around the world via the innovative edX open-source online platform. In recognition and support of their groundbreaking work, each of the laureates will receive HK$30 million (approximately US$3.87 million), representing a combined award of HK$60 million (approximately US$7.74 million).
This year’s laureates were chosen during a six-month judging process from nearly 1,000 nominations spanning 92 countries by an independent committee led by Dr Koichiro MATSUURA, former Director-General of UNESCO. Mr Andreas SCHLEICHER, Director for the OECD’s Directorate of Education and Skills leads the panel judging the Yidan Prize for Education Research, while Ms Dorothy K. GORDON, Chair of UNESCO IFAP, leads the panel adjudicating the Yidan Prize for Education Development. The geographical reach of nominated projects increased by nearly 70% this year, indicating the continued growth of the significance of the Yidan Prize on the global stage.
Dr Charles CHEN Yidan, Founder of the Yidan Prize, commented: “I congratulate the laureates and nominees alike for their outstanding contribution and achievements. Education should be an area of interest that goes beyond race, religion, economic status or country of origin. I hope every country and region can share the results of education research and development, facilitating more international cooperation in order to create a better world through education.”
A closer look at the laureates
Larry V. HEDGES, Chairman of the Department of Statistics at Northwestern University in Chicago, developed statistical methods for meta-analysis in social, medical and biological sciences, and found innovative methods of synthesizing research findings across studies. His work helps policymakers, educators and the general public to see the evidence for “what works” in the field of education, and makes it possible to take a scientific approach to improving education for future generations. His current work includes providing advanced training to research professionals in design, conduct and analysis of large-scale, randomized experiments in education.
Mr SCHLEICHER, Head, Judging Panel, Yidan Prize for Education Research, praised Professor Hedges, the laureate of the Yidan Prize for Education Research, for advancing evidence-based, quantitative analytics. He said: “Larry Hedges has given us new glasses for seeing what works in education. It’s hard to improve what we cannot see and measure, and Prof. Hedges provides researchers with the tools and methods to better understand how we can help students learn better, teachers to teach better and schools to become more effective. It provides a way to base educational improvements on scientific evidence. As we live in a time when misinformation is rife, and the quantity of available data is almost infinite, this work couldn’t come at a more critical time.’’
Anant AGARWAL is the founder and CEO of edX, an online learning destination founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He taught the first edX course on circuits and electronics from MIT, which drew 155,000 students from 162 countries. Professor Agarwal founded edX in 2012 with the aim to provide access to high quality education at scale, to learners around the world, regardless of geographic location, financial resources, prior academic qualifications, gender, race or other demographics. edX currently offers over 2,000 online courses from more than 130 leading institutions to more than 17 million people around the world and aims to continue increasing its reach. edX was also able to link education and employment by allowing learners to obtain micro certificates. Today, high-achieving certificate holders gain access to job interviews at multinational IT companies. Numerous companies use edX to upgrade their employees’ skills
Ms GORDON, Head, Judging Panel, Yidan Prize for Education Development praised Anant AGARWAL for his pioneering work behind the massive open online course (MOOC) movement. She said: “edX gives people the tools to decide where to learn, how to learn and what to learn. It brings education into the sharing economy, enabling access for people who were previously excluded from the traditional system of education because of financial, geographic or social constraints. It is the ultimate disruptor with the ability to reach every corner of the world that is internet enabled, decentralizing and democratizing education.’’
Dr MATSUURA commented: “We are pleased with this year’s result, the second year the Yidan Prize has been awarded. Our panel is delighted to see that the laureates’ projects are helping both developed and developing countries transform education systems today for a better tomorrow in an innovative and sustainable manner.”
Mr Kevin YEUNG Yun-hung, the Secretary for Education of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and an honored guest at the laureates’ announcement, said: “I would like to take this opportunity to express my gratitude to all who have made the Yidan Prize Foundation a success. It is particularly encouraging to see that the Foundation’s heart and soul lie right here in Hong Kong, a valuable member of the Pacific Rim and, most importantly, a place that places a high value on education and research.”
Honoring the laureates, sharing ideas, proposing solutions
The Yidan Prize for Education Research and the Yidan Prize for Education Development will be awarded in Hong Kong on 9 December 2018. The Honorable Mrs Carrie LAM CHENG Yuet-ngor, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, will present Larry Hedges and Anant Agarwal with gold medals.
The ceremony will be followed by the Yidan Prize Summit on 10 December 2018. The laureates will be joined by approximately 350 practitioners, researchers, policymakers, business leaders and philanthropists, and other global leaders in education.
During the summit, the Yidan Prize Foundation will launch the 2018 edition of the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index (WEFFI), the first comprehensive index to evaluate inputs into education systems rather than outputs, such as test scores. This year’s WEFFI has expanded its list of economies from 35 to 50, representing nearly 93% of global GDP and 89% of the world’s population.
Nominations for the next round of the Yidan Prize will open in late September.
About the Yidan Prize
Founded in 2016 by Dr Charles CHEN Yidan, a core founder of Tencent, the Yidan Prize has a mission of creating a better world through education. It consists of two awards, the Yidan Prize for Education Research and the Yidan Prize for Education Development. Yidan Prize Laureates each receives a gold medal and a total sum of HK$30 million, including a cash prize of HK$15 million and a project fund of HK$15 million. To ensure transparency and sustainability, the prize is managed by Yidan Prize Foundation and governed by an independent trust with an endowment of HK$2.5 billion. Through a series of initiatives, the prize aims to establish a platform for the global community to engage in conversation around education and to play a role in education philanthropy.