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Responses to COVID-19 and New Insights in Education Revealed at AVPN Conference: Collaboration between the OECD and the Yidan Prize Foundation Brings New Insights in Education and BRAC Focuses on Women as Change Agents in Response to COVID-19

(11 June 2020, Hong Kong) Mr Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Head of the Judging Panel for the Yidan Prize for Education Research, gave a keynote speech on “Scaling Excellence in Education” at the Asian Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN) Virtual Conference 2020 today. Dr Erum Mariam, Executive Director of the BRAC Institute of Educational Development (BRAC IED) also shared insights into promoting education equality in the context of COVID-19.

 Dr Erum Mariam, Executive Director of the BRAC IED

At the conference on 9 June, with a deep-dive on Gender issues in Asia, Dr Erum Mariam shared “Reflections From COVID-19 on Inequality Through Education”. BRAC’s founder Sir Fazle Hasan Abed KCMG was awarded the Yidan Prize for Education Development 2019.

Dr Erum Mariam said that after the outbreak of COVID-19, BRAC recognized the need to find a way to stay connected with families and keep children engaged, despite social distancing measures implemented by the Bangladesh government.

The BRAC solution focused on women as change agents, with women leading a telecommunication model, supporting families, ensuring they stayed connected, maintained access to learning and received wellbeing support during the pandemic. 

“The development of our telecommunication model, Pashe Achhi (Beside You) has allowed us to provide our beneficiaries with psychosocial support while engaging the children in learning through playful approaches over the phone. We recognized now more than ever, the importance of the relationships that our front liners and playleaders have with children and individual families. It has highlighted once more that the learning and wellbeing of children cannot stop under any circumstances,” Dr Erum Mariam said.

BRAC was established by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed KCMG in Bangladesh, which is one of the world’s largest non-governmental organizations with a focus on empowering the poor, especially women and girls, to achieve their full potential.

Mr Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills, OECD and Head, Judging Panel, Yidan Prize for Education Research

On 11 June, Mr Andreas Schleicher gave a keynote speech on “Scaling Excellence in Education” and shared new insights in education, from OECD research in co-operation with the Yidan Prize Foundation.

Mr Andreas Schleicher is the founder of PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) at OECD. PISA measures 15-year-olds’ learning performance, and evaluates different educational systems accordingly. The new research project combines analysis of the PISA data with insights from the growth mindset theory developed by the Inaugural Laureate of Yidan Prize for Education Research, Professor Carol S. Dweck.

Despite increasing digitalization and globalization, data from OECD’s PISA assessments show that, in most countries, there has been no real improvement in learning outcomes over the last decade, and social background, geography and gender remain major obstacles to educational success.

The OECD in co-operation with the Yidan Prize Foundation is beginning to unpack new PISA data showing a close relationship between the growth mindset of students, their academic achievement, their educational aspirations, and their capacity to overcome social disadvantage.

“These new insights provide important pointers on how we can scale excellence in education, and they may become even more important in the future: The most obvious implication of a world that requires constant adaptation and growth from learners is the need to build the capacity and motivation for lifelong learning, and a growth mindset is at the heart of this. We used to learn to do the work, now learning is the work,” said Mr Andreas Schleicher.

Learners with a growth mindset have a belief that it is within the power of every individual to shape and change the course of events. “This is how agency is built. So placing greater emphasis on the development of students’ mindset may help more of them to constantly evolve and grow, and to find and adjust their right place in a changing world,” he explained.

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 (around US$3.9 million), half of which is a cash prize while the other half is a project fund. To ensure transparency and sustainability, the prize is managed by the Yidan Prize Foundation and governed by an independent trust with an endowment of HK$2.5 billion (around US$323 million). 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.

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