A Conversation with Mr. Edward Ma, Secretary-General of Yidan Prize Foundation

Date

June 5, 2020

4 min read

Q: The Yidan Prize is the world’s biggest education prize today. This reflects a strong belief in the power of education, and a deep commitment to transform the education system. What is Yidan Prize Foundation’s vision by investing in education?

The Yidan Prize is more than an award. At Yidan Prize Foundation, we believe in the twin pillars of promoting inspiration and learning to create a better world through education.

Inspiration – The Yidan Prize aims to serve as a source of inspiration and ideas on advancing education globally. By recognising and supporting high-impact educational initiatives from our Laureates, we want to inspire more people around the world to transform education. We also want to spark more ideas to promote educational development.

Learning – Our Laureates join a global learning community, where they can interact with other innovative minds to drive deeper, collective impact. We believe in the power of collaborations, and we encourage our Laureates – and their changemakers out there – to work together to drive greater systematic changes in education.

Q: Could you share with us who your recent Laureates are, and why they stood out from the crowd?

Well, at the AVPN Conference, we’ll be featuring a few of our Laureates who have been doing excellent work here in Asia.

In the session on Scaling Excellence in Education, we’ll be introducing our 2017 Laureates and our new research project on “Growth Mindsets”, in partnership with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Our representative is Mr Andreas Schleicher, who heads the judging panel of the Yidan Prize for Education Research. He is also director of OECD’s Directorate of Education and Skills.

In the session on Reflections From COVID-19 on Inequality Through Education, the BRAC Institute of Educational Development (BRAC IED) will be sharing best practices in educational developments. BRAC IED is founded by Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, who is our 2019 Laureate.

Q: Funding for education has been increasing, yet we still see many young people struggling in the job market, and governments worrying about the mismatch between market demand and education supply. What needs to change?

Before we talk about change, it is important to first understand young people, who are growing up in a world that looks very different. Specifically, understand their aspirations, worldviews and challenges that they are facing. We have been doing that, and have identified two key areas:

First, equip young people with the ability to navigate unfamiliar terrains. The world is changing very quickly. We are living in a time where half the jobs in the next decade or two are not known to us yet. As such, adaptability, flexibility and empathy are three valuable skills that people will need. Instead of moulding young people for ‘unknown’ jobs in the future, we should focus on equipping them with the adaptive skills needed for the future economy.

Second, create greater exposure to the working world. Very often, career dissonances and confusions happen because of mismatches in expectations between young people and the working world. A lot of that can be mitigated by exposing young people to the working world, so that they get the opportunity to apply their skills and knowledge in unfamiliar situations, and ease their ultimate entry into the job market. To find out more, see also the Dream Jobs publication by OECD, with a foreword from our founder Dr Charles Chen Yidan.

We also recently launched a research project on Growth Mindsets, in partnership with OECD and our 2017 Laureates, Professor Carol Dweck and Ms Vicky Colbert, to examine how we can foster stronger growth mindsets in young people. Having a growth mindset is one of the key skills needed for the future economy. Through this research, we hope to understand how growth mindsets can be developed best, and in so doing, inform teaching and learning practices to inculcate growth mindsets in young people.

Q: How would you like educators and investors to join you on this journey?

For those out there who are doing good work in education, or know of someone who’s doing good work in education, please apply for the Yidan Prize. Nominations open in September and October every year, at our website. We are committed to creating a better world through education, and welcome like-minded individuals and organisations to join our global learning community to drive deeper, collective impact.  We look forward to sharing more about the Yidan Prize at the upcoming AVPN Virtual Conference.


About Author
Edward Ma
Edward Ma Secretary-General Yidan Prize Foundation

Mr Edward Ma is the Secretary-General of the Yidan Prize Foundation where he works closely with the Board, Advisory Committee and Judging Committee to design and implement strategic plans that will lead the foundation to accomplish its mission to create a better world through education.

An engineer by training at the University of Cambridge, Mr Ma was inspired by the experience of studying at the university and deeply appreciates the importance and the transformative power of education to empower and equip people with tools to navigate through a life-long journey of discovery. He believes education can benefit society as a whole and we all need to work together to bring a more equitable and inclusive future for everyone.

Mr Ma also currently serves as a Director of the Boards of Wuhan College, a private, not-for-profit university in China, and the Yidan University Education Foundation, both founded by Dr Charles CHEN Yidan. Mr Ma is committed to delivering a positive impact to the global education community, and his passion in people, philanthropy and education has led him to serve on the boards and executive committees of numerous charitable organizations, including the Networks and Volunteers Working Group at the University of Cambridge; the Intellectual Forum at Jesus College, Cambridge; Outward Bound Hong Kong; the Peace and Development Foundation, an official partner of the United Nations Development Programme; the Friends of Cambridge in Hong Kong; and the Oxford and Cambridge Society of Hong Kong.

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