Saturday, September 29, 2012

The World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE) announces six groundbreaking projects from around the world as Winners of the 2012 WISE Awards under the theme “Transforming Education”.

Now in their fourth year, the WISE Awards identify, showcase and promote innovative educational projects from all sectors and regions of the world in order to inspire change in education. Winning projects, which are selected for their concrete, positive impact upon society, receive global visibility and a prize of $20,000 (U.S.). 

Hailing from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chile, Denmark, India and the United States of America, the winning initiatives were selected by a Jury of leading education experts following a pre-selection of 24 WISE Awards finalists from 14 countries. Winning projects, including the Satya Bharti School Program (India), were selected for their tangible, positive impact upon society and their innovative approach to solving important global problems.

“Since 2009, the WISE Awards have recognized successful, transformative projects in education in order to generate a pool of sound practices and to inspire their adoption and adaptation elsewhere,” said H.E. Sheikh Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, Ph.D., Chairman of WISE and Chairman of the WISE Awards Jury. “When determining the best projects, we look at what is being achieved as well as how it is done. The winning initiatives were selected because they are successful, but also because of their innovative approach. These are not ordinary education efforts.”

The diverse projects offer unique solutions to today’s most important challenges, from poverty to climate change. Solutions include unconventional business models to assist low-income families with affordable education, as well as original ways of bringing high-quality education to remote and destitute parts of the world.

“As one of the most prestigious awards in education, our organization is honored to be a 2012 WISE Awards Winner,” said Bharti Mittal Rakesh, Co-Chairman of the Bharti Foundation, whose Satya Bharti School Program has impacted more than 62,000 children in India. “WISE offers a truly international platform for sharing best practices. Thanks to this honor, we will have the opportunity to showcase our Satya Bharti School Program initiative to the world and to engage and collaborate with international or local contexts that could benefit from a similar model. The recognition that being a WISE Awards winner brings will surely help open doors to international conversation and collaboration.”

This year one of the WISE Awards is for a project that, in addition to “Transforming Education”, has best provided innovative financing of primary education. The winning project comes from Bangladesh, where solar-powered floating schools ensure year-round primary education to students in flood-prone areas, even during the height of the monsoon period. 

This emphasis on primary education reflects the support of Qatar Foundation Chairperson Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser for United Nations Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 2 on achieving universal primary education. The WISE focus in 2012 on an innovative financing project is designed to stimulate efforts worldwide to reach MDG 2.

Finalists and Winners of the WISE Awards will participate in the annual WISE Summit taking place November 13 - 15 at the Qatar National Convention Centre in Doha, Qatar, under the theme “Collaborating for Change”.

About the 2012 WISE Awards Winning Education Initiatives:

Cristo Rey Network Corporate Work Study Program, United States of America

Launched in 1996, the Cristo Rey Network gives low-income students access to the high-quality instruction and support they need to be college-ready by the end of high school. Students work five days per month in an entry-level job in a white collar company and the fee for their work is used to underwrite tuition costs. The Corporate Work Study Program gives students knowledge and skills to succeed at college and in the modern workplace, as well as hope of a secure and prosperous future. In the 2011-12 school year, students earned $37 million towards their education. The Cristo Rey Network consists of 25 college preparatory high schools across the USA, serving 7,400 students, and it partners with 1,700 companies.

PSU Educarchile, Chile

PSU Educarchile, created in 2006, is the first free, interactive, online college preparation program in Chile. It prepares young people to take the obligatory University Admission Test (PSU - Prueba de Selección Universitaria), combining the delivery of essential content with a flexible and interactive digital platform. Historically, preparation for the PSU test has been through face-to-face classes in a physical, paid facility. Every year PSU Educarchile reaches 1,200,000 students – many of them from low-income backgrounds and in remote areas - through websites and mobile phones. This has narrowed the socio-economic and geographical opportunity gap, and decentralized and improved the quality of Chilean education. The project is supported by national and regional governments, and by the country’s main telephone companies and communications media.

RoboBraille, Denmark

RoboBraille converts textual educational materials into formats such as Braille, mp3 files, structured audio books, e-books and visual Braille for the blind and partially sighted, people with dyslexia or poor reading skills, and the illiterate. It is an e-mail and web-based service that is available free of charge to non-commercial users and without registration requirements. Alternative format texts are time-consuming and costly to produce, and expensive to obtain for people with special needs. Created in 2004, RoboBraille currently serves between 1,000 and 2,000 daily user requests all over the world in several European languages and in Arabic.

Satya Bharti School Program, India

The Satya Bharti School Program provides high-quality “end-to-end” education, free of charge, to underprivileged children, particularly girls, in rural India. It was launched by the Bharti Foundation in 2006 and partners with state governments to complement the nation's education agenda. It has impacted more than 62,000 children, almost half of them girls, in the last six years and currently reaches over 37,500 children in 750 host and neighboring villages, the majority from minority communities.

Solar-Powered Floating Schools, Bangladesh (WISE Awards Winner for innovative financing of primary education)

The non-profit organization Shidhulai Swanirvar Sangstha introduced solar-powered floating schools to ensure children’s education even during the height of the monsoon. The boats collect students from riverside villages, dock at a final destination and provide on-board small-group instruction. After class, the boats take students back to their homes and then go on to pick up other groups. Each boat school has a classroom for 30 students, an Internet-linked laptop, a library and electronic resources, and provides basic primary education up to grade IV. The solar lighting makes the school schedule flexible, and after school many students take home a re-charged solar lantern to study by. Parents and villagers receive on-board training on children’s and women’s rights, nutrition, health and hygiene, sustainable farming, marketing systems and climate-change adaptation. Almost 70,000 children have benefited since the start of the project in 2002. The project is funded from multiple sources, including crops, fisheries and the conversion of kerosene lanterns into solar-powered lanterns.

Cambodian Children's Fund – Generational Change through Education

Since 2004, the Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) has helped children who reside and work in the Steung Meanchey landfill district, one of the most impoverished and environmentally toxic places in the world, in the outskirts of Phnom Penh. CCF has changed the lives of more than 1,000 families by focusing on education as a primary, basic need. It provides access to clean water, food, healthcare and education, and it cares for children and their families in four residential schools, three satellite schools, a community medical center, a daycare center, a nursery, a maternal care program and outreach programs. CCF’s residential schools offer safe accommodation, healthcare, hot meals, vitamins, and accelerated learning opportunities to nearly 450 children aged 6 to 18.

About the WISE Awards for Education

Inaugurated in 2009, the WISE Awards identify, showcase and promote innovative educational projects from around the world. To date, 1,600 applications have been received from 128 countries, resulting in 122 Finalists and 24 winning projects. The 24 successful projects have come from a variety of countries around the world, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ghana, India, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Paraguay, South Africa, Turkey, the UK and the USA. These “real world” initiatives are progressively building a pool of sound practice which is having a local or global impact on education.

About the World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE):

WISE is dedicated to building the future of education through innovation. This global collaborative initiative was inaugurated in 2009 by Qatar Foundation under the leadership of Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. Its mission is to address the challenges facing 21st-century education, to expand dialogue around the world and to implement practical and sustainable solutions. To this end, WISE holds an annual international Summit that is a unique meeting place for thought leaders and experts to share best practices in education. WISE is also a continuing initiative devoted to reaching outside the traditional circles of the education community to promote innovation and implement concrete actions.

WISE 2012 will take place in Doha 13-15 November 2012. For full details see the WISE website:

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