The 2018 Yidan Prize for Education Research and Yidan Prize for Education Development were awarded this weekend to Professors Larry Hedges and Anant Argawal under the witness of 350 guests in Hong King. The pair received the awards from Mrs Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The two laureates each received a gold medal and an award of HK$30 million (approximate US$3.87 million) in recognition and support of their contributions to education reform.
The Yidan Prize for Education Development Laureate, Professor Agarwal, is the founder and CEO of edX. He originally taught electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and in fall 2012, he received US$30 million each from Harvard University and MIT and established edX, a large-scale and not-for-profit online learning platform to “accelerate your future.”
Professor Agarwal is committed to providing free quality education to anyone, irrespective of their educational background in anywhere. Over 130 world-class institutes of higher education have participated in edX, including Imperial College London and Oxford University in the United Kingdom; Peking University and Tsinghua University in China; and The University of Hong Kong, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and The Hong Kong Polytechnic University in Hong Kong.
Since its founding, edX has already provided over 2,000 higher education courses from many world’s leading institutions to more than 18 million people around the world, and the number of offerings continued to expand.
edX strives to make successful connections between education and employment. Students who have completed their courses can obtain a certificate from edX, and many of these certificate holders have gained interview opportunities from multinational companies. Also, many corporate have leveraged the edX platform to enhance the skills of their employees. All in all, edX has ushered education into a new chapter.
Professor Agarwal said: “We're really honored and fortunate to have won the Yidan Prize. We want to use the prize money to launch radical new efforts that would enable much younger learners, both at the late high school and college level, to get radically increased access and quality for their learning. edX today has 18 million students from every single country in the world, and I would love to see in the fullness of time, billions of students routinely accessing a quality education like this and education being affordable for everybody everywhere with a will to learn.”
Professor Hedges, the Yidan Prize for Education Research Laureate, is the chair of the Department of Statistics at Northwestern University in Chicago. He is renowned for his development of the statistical methods for meta-analysis (SMMS), which can be applied in social science, medical science, and biological science. The SMMS is an innovative method to integrate transdisciplinary research results, and it allows 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.
Professor Hedges said: “I am honored to be the Yidan Prize laureate and I’m going to use whatever I gain from this prize to try and increase the profile of evidence in education for the purposes of improving education. It’s important that we avoid any mistakes that can be used to discredit education, to discredit evidence in education science, because there are people who would prefer to make policy decisions on the basis of preferences and superstitions and prejudices rather than on the basis of evidence.”
Dr Charles Chen Yidan, the founder of Yidan Prize, offered his heartfelt congratulations to the two laureates. “I want to congratulate both laureates for being recognized by the independent judging committee, and for being awarded the Yidan Prize. Your theory and projects have transformed many thousands of lives. I’m grateful for your dedication to education and your contributions to society through education. In the future, I look forward to seeing more innovations in all aspects of education systems with wider participation from various stakeholders.”
The Yidan Prize – world’s largest award in education – has entered its second year, and it saw around 1,000 nominations from over 92 countries. The independent Judging Committee, led by former UNESCO Director-General Dr Koichiro Matsuura, had spent half a year to review and select the laureates. Mr Andreas Schleicher, Director for the Directorate of Education and Skills at OECD, is the head of the Yidan Prize for Education Research Judging Panel, whereas the Yidan Prize for Education Development Judging Panel is headed by Ms Dorothy K. Gordon, the Chair of UNESCO’s Information for All Programme.
Comparing with the inaugural year, this year saw a 70 percent increase in the number of nominations, and they came from 151 countries and regions. These numbers are a solid testimonial to Yidan Prize’s worldwide recognition.