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Hedges of the U.S. and India’s Agarwal awarded largest prize in education

Fresh off the successful launch of the Yidan Prize in 2017, the judging panels for the 2018 Yidan Prize have selected two distinguished individuals as the next recipients for the largest prize in education. Larry V. Hedges has been awarded the Yidan Prize for Education Research for his ground-breaking statistical methods for meta-analysis and Anant Agarwal has been awarded 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.

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.

Anant Agarwal is the 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.

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 December 9, 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, including HRH Princess Laurentien of the Netherlands; Ms Grace Pandor, Minister of Higher Education of South Africa; Russian-Armenian philanthropist Mr Ruben Vardanyan; and other global leaders in education.

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.