01 November 2011, Dhaka. We are proud to announce that Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, Founder and Chairperson of BRAC, has been awarded the first WISE Prize for Education in recognition of his 40-year career dedicated to alleviating poverty through education. On November 1, 2011, His Highness Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani, Amir of the State of Qatar presented Sir Fazle with the prize, which is the world’s first major award for education, before 1,300 delegates at the opening session of the third World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE). For this inaugural edition, following a pre-selection by a Committee, a prestigious Jury selected Sir Fazle as the inaugural Laureate. Sir Abed received an award of $500,000 (US) and a specially designed gold medal, bearing the word “education” in over 50 languages.
In his citation of the Laureate, WISE Chairman H.E. Dr. Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani said: “Fazle Hasan Abed’s life and career embody the values of WISE. He recognized that education is a passport to social inclusion and opportunity. He discovered a successful formula, and he adapted and expanded it – first in Bangladesh and then in other countries. As a direct consequence, millions of people around the world lead healthier, happier and more productive lives. His vision, resourcefulness and determination are vital ingredients of the innovation process and he stands as an example to all of us who believe that education, more than anything else, determines the destiny of individuals and societies. The Jury saw him as an ideal WISE Prize Laureate.”
In acceptance remarks, Fazle Hasan Abed said: “I thank the Qatar Foundation for instituting this magnificent Prize and for honouring me and BRAC with its first instalment. It is on behalf of the 50,000 BRAC staff and nearly 40,000 BRAC school teachers that I humbly accept this prize. I have discovered time and again in my four decades of work with BRAC that education is the fundamental catalyst for change. It is easy to get overwhelmed by the large numbers. But we must always remember that the changes happen in individual lives and families. Many of the graduates of BRAC’s non-formal schools have gone on to receive University degrees and have become Doctors, Lawyers and Engineers. One girl has gone on to win Bangladesh’s version of American Idol. These young people may have achieved different things in their lives but one thing that they had in common – education has unlocked new opportunities for all of them.”
The establishment of the WISE Prize was announced at the closing of the last WISE Summit in December 2010 as a major accolade to recognize an individual or team for an outstanding, world-class contribution to education. In addition to the gold medal, the winner receives an award of $500,000 (US). Following an international call for nominations, an 11-strong international committee of educational experts made a preliminary assessment and a high-level Jury of five eminent individuals, chaired by Dr. Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, took the final decision.
Under Sir Fazle’s visionary leadership, BRAC has grown to become the largest provider of private, secular education in the world, contributing to the pre-primary, primary and secondary education of more than 10 million students. Click here to find out more about BRAC’s groundbreaking interventions in education.