In his latest novel Origin, celebrated American author Dan Brown asks two age-old questions, “Where do we come from? Where are we going?” Central to the theme of this novel is the role technology plays in society, and the impact it could have on the future – both the good and the bad.
Dr. Charles Chen Yidan, co-founder of Chinese Internet mega-company Tencent, and founder of the Yidan Prize Foundation, is asking a fundamentally similar question, albeit around the impact of technology on education and future generations of students.
Will students of the future will have the skills necessary to thrive in a global economy where technology threatens to replace many of the more routine tasks workers do today? If technology displaces some portion of workers, where will those people work? Is our education system doing enough to prepare students for the jobs that will be needed by companies in the future?
As Dr. Chen explained earlier this week at an educational convening at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA, “we have the fourth industrial revolution, we have seen a lot of the changes in education in science and new technologies what they have brought to education.
“That brought me again to think about the future of education and how people will interact. For example, the interaction between humans and machines in the application of robotics and these technologies.
“The whole education system might be totally different if we think from this perspective. It puts a different demand for the people who will participate in education, it puts different demand for talents in education, and also for the system itself. We could use the Yidan Prize as a platform or foundation and bring together all these stakeholders in education. We will provide a chance for them to talk about and contribute to education.”
The Yidan Prize Foundation is tackling these issues head on through a multi-pronged approach: The Yidan Prize, The Yidan Prize Summit, and the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index.
The 2018 Yidan Prize for Education
The Yidan Prize was founded in 2016 as an international prize that recognizes individuals whose work makes profound contributions to education research and development, with the benefit of bringing more attention to the work, and the aim of creating a better world through education.
The Yidan Prize is divided into two categories:
- Yidan Prize for Education Research recognizes outstanding research that amounts to significant contributions to education.
- Yidan Prize for Education Development recognizes innovative ideas that tackle pressing challenges in the field of education.
Each Yidan Prize Laureate receives a gold medal and HK$30 million (around US$3.9 million) worth of awards, comprising a cash prize of HK$15 million and a project fund of HK$15 million.
According to Dr. Chen, “I set up the Yidan Prize because I really wanted to put the spotlight on the best researcher and the person who is very devoted to education development and research work. We want to put the spotlight on these people and then have their ideas brought to as many people as possible. That was the goal. As we all know, this was only the first year of the Yidan Prize.
“I am very happy we had very high standards and quality nominations – almost 1,000 this past year. Prior to this, we met with many colleges and universities, foundations, research institutes where we asked for referrals and recommendations for the nominees.
“We also have a very good judging panel who work independently for the selection process. This is led by our global advisory committee. They have their own nomination and selection process. They work on their own independently. I couldn’t be happier with the results but as I said, this is just the beginning. We would like to continue to do this on a yearly basis. We want to have all the good ideas about education brought to as many people as possible. The first step was really good. It’s solid and I couldn’t be happier but I want to do this continuously.”
The four criteria used by the independent judging panel to evaluate the nominations are sustainability, innovation, transformation, and sustainability.
The Yidan Prize Summit
Held in conjunction with the awards ceremony, the Summit is an educational event that brings together stakeholders in education from around the world. The 2017 Summit included over 350 educators, researchers, innovators, and policymakers with a wide variety of topics covered. According to Dr. Chen, “we want to build on last years’ experience and put a spotlight on the two new Laureates. People might be very curious or interested about what they have accomplished about their research and their educational work.”
More information on the Summit, the agenda, and how you could attend will be made available later this year on the Foundation’s website.
Worldwide Educating for the Future Index
Developed in conjunction with the Economist Intelligence Unit, the Yidan Prize Foundation sponsored in-depth research and launched the Worldwide Educating for the Future Index: A benchmark for the skills of tomorrow. This groundbreaking research looks at the rapid development of technology, the impacts it will have on the skills needed by future workers, and how well 35 different economies are doing to prepare their students for the future.
“We all know that some things are different for the individual countries but we thought we could put the focus more on the input, rather than the output of the education” said Dr. Chen. “We want to focus on the future – what the future of education could be. I think the good thing is that we want to make sure that we are doing enough good work for the input of education so we might have preferable outcomes eventually.” The Yidan Prize Foundation and the Economist Intelligence Unit plan to update this index on an annual basis in association with the Yidan Prize Summit.
Planning for the 2018 Yidan Prize Awards Ceremony and Summit are already under way. The event will take place from December 2 – December 4, 2018 in Hong Kong. Nominations are currently being accepted through March 31, 2018 at https://nomination.yidanprize.org/register