Dr Charles Chen Yidan, Founder of the Yidan Prize visited Dhaka, Bangladesh this week to present the prestigious award. Sir Fazle Hasan Abed’s daughter and son accepted the award on his behalf at BRAC Head Office in Dhaka.
Sir Fazle was awarded the Yidan Prize for Education Development for his groundbreaking work on education in September 2019. During a visit to Sir Fazle in October 2019, the Yidan Prize Foundation learned directly from this iconic figure in international development his visionary approach and pivotal role in changing the course of education in Bangladesh.
After Sir Fazle’s passing on 20 December 2019, Dr Charles Chen Yidan decided to visit Dhaka to pay his respect and present the award in person to his family. Dr Charles Chen Yidan also visited a BRAC school in the Korail slum in Banani and an Early Childhood Development (ECD) center – Play Lab in Banasree – during this two day visit to the city.
“Sir Fazle dedicated to his work true compassion, courage and conviction. He was the reason why people could choose to have optimism triumph over despair. I believe that Sir Fazle will continue to be the source of inspiration for the world. The hundreds of millions of lives he transformed will remember him as the spark of hope, especially by those from the most vulnerable and poorest communities now enriched by new possibilities. The Yidan Prize Foundation will continue to work closely with BRAC to further impactful educational programmes in Asia, Africa and beyond. Together, we can continue to help young, marginalized children find joy in their learning and those deprived of resources live happy, productive lives,” Dr Charles Chen Yidan said at the award ceremony.
Ms Tamara Hasan Abed, daughter of Sir Fazle, attended the ceremony and accepted the gold medal on Sir Fazle’s behalf. She is the chairperson of BRAC University’s board of trustees. Mr Shameran Abed, son of Sir Fazle and senior director of BRAC Microfinance and Ultra Poor Graduation Programme, read out the acceptance speech, Sir Fazle drafted last year after the announcement of the prize.
“I would like to express my gratitude for the recognition bestowed upon both BRAC and myself. The very generous Yidan Prize funding will allow us to expand our education activities further. I believe that education is the greatest equalizer. I envision a world where even the poorest among us have the opportunity to lead lives of purpose and dignity. I humbly request everyone to play their part in making this vision a reality.” Sir Fazle drafted in the speech.
“I am most honored to receive the Yidan Prize on behalf of my father,” Mr Shameran Abed commented. “We are committed to carry his legacy forward,” he added.
Sir Fazle always viewed education as a crucial catalyst for change. He firmly believed that it is about more than just schools and books. Play-based joyful learning is a cornerstone of BRAC’s approach. BRAC has set up more than 1,400 play-based early childhood development centers across Bangladesh, Tanzania and Uganda, where close to 40,000 children aged one to five are presently enrolled. In these centers preschool children have access to age-appropriate play materials a play-based curriculum and play spaces that ensure their holistic development.
As a Yidan Prize Laureate, Sir Fazle received a gold medal and HK$30 million (around US$3.9 million), half of which is a cash prize and the other half a project fund.
The Yidan Prize project funding (around US$2 million) will be invested by BRAC in research, innovation, and scaling up high-impact solutions related to Early Childhood Development in the next three years. BRAC will also use part of the project fund to pilot a social enterprise play-based child care model in Bangladesh.
“Addressing the needs of children in the most disadvantaged communities has always been a core priority for BRAC. The Yidan Prize will support us in scaling up our play-based Early Childhood Development solutions across Bangladesh, Uganda, and Tanzania,” Asif Saleh, Executive Director of BRAC commented.