Recognising innovation in education

| | Updated on: Oct 29, 2013
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It is easily one of the most significant events in Doha… more than 1,500 delegates from 150 countries;  82 international journalists and 40 regional ones have landed in this city to attend the three-day WISE (World Innovation Summit for Education), which began on Tuesday.

As every year from 2009, this year too the summit organised by the Qatar Foundation will recognise and give a monetary award of $ 20,000 to each of the six outstanding projects from across the world that have infused innovative ideas into educational projects for the marginalised and hence ensure a better future to their beneficiaries.

More exciting than these, for the third year the WISE prize for education, which carries a cash award of $500,000 was announced, and Vicky Colbert, founder of the Colombian NGO Escuela Nueva was declared the winner.

Founded 30 years ago, her organisation has looked at a collaborative approach to education between teachers, parents and the students and brought about huge changes in public policy in education in her country.

A recipient of several prestigious awards, Vicky's model is replicated in several countries from Mexico to Vietnam.

After the award ceremony, talking to Business Line she said she was very keen to introduce her education model in India. For this she had once visited Hyderabad and twice a delegation of bureaucrats and others had visited her organisation in Colombia, but nothing much came of it.

"Anyway, in any country innovations cannot happen within bureaucratic frameworks. I am confident that if I find the right NGO to work with in India, we can move forward", she said.  

Over three days (Oct 29-31) , 60 sessions will be attended by eminent educationists, influential politicians and other prominent thought leaders who have made a significant contribution in widening the reach of education.

This year’s project winners include PEAS (Promoting Equality in African Schools) from the UK which reaches affordable quality education to the young in Uganda,, a rural education programme in Moroccon, ALISON from Ireland which has initiated an online learning platform which enables users worldwide to gain employability skills through free, self-paced multimedia courses, and iThara Youth Initiative from Saudi Arabia, a youth development programme focusing on science and technology.

Among the 2012 winners was the Satya Bharti School Programme initiated by the Bharti Foundation for underprivileged children in rural India.

The importance of WISE, set up by the Qatar Foundation in 2009 under the chairmanship of Sheikha Mosa bint Nasser, mother of the present young Emir of Qatar Sheik Tamim, whose father stepped down this June to make way for his 33-year-old son’s coronation, is evident at the Doha international airport.

All delegates are hosted by the Qatar Foundation. As soon as I enter the arrival hall at Doha, I am whisked away to a lounge to join some other participants. No immigration queues for WISE delegates; our passports and visas are checked, eyes scanned and baggage tags politely taken in the lounge. While the formalities are done, almost in a flash, we dig into almond croissants and piping hot coffee.

A Merc is waiting to transfer me to my hotel and the driver Hamid, from Kerala, of course, says his three years in Qatar have been “very pleasant”. The money is good, even though the rent and the food take a chunk of it. "Every two months I am able to send home about Rs 15,000 to 20,000,” he beams. He could send more, he adds sheepishly, but for his weakness for “biryani which costs about 15 Qatari Rial (Rs 240).

Most of the five star hotels in Doha have been taken over by the Foundation to house the WISE delegates, and Hamid provides a little clue on how the logistics were handled by pointing proudly to the VIP sticker on his sleek convertible….this is one of the cars of a Minister! 

Published on October 29, 2013

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