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Education innovation forum opens in Doha

DOHA ― The third World Innovation Summit for Education, one of the largest international education forums, kicked off its three-day run in Doha, Qatar, on Tuesday with more than 1,000 attending.

The forum has attracted about 1,200 participants and 140 distinguished speakers from about 120 countries, including Colombia University professor Jeffrey Sachs, former U.K. prime minister Gordon Brown and Wikipedia Founder Jimmy Wales. They will discuss the future of education and global challenges.

The annual event gives an award for the most innovative practices in education to honor educators who haven’t received much of the spotlight for their accomplishments.

This year, Fazle Hasan Abed, who founded the Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee, won the award for helping more than 130 million people in underdeveloped countries receive education through his organization throughout its 38 years and contributing to eliminating poverty.

“I am delighted getting the WISE prize. I am also happy for all the BRAC employees who have been recognized by the award,” said Abed at a press conference on Tuesday. “It will energize the organization which is working in 10 countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Haiti.”

Abed received a gold medal and $500,000.

The forum is an international initiative to find new ways to address global challenges and help shape the future of education. Its theme this year is changing societies and changing education.

“WISE recognizes that the challenges facing the world community have never been greater so we need innovative solutions not achieved by traditional approaches alone. WISE asserts that the desire to innovate is, in fact, an innate human need to shape and improve our environment,” said Sheikha Mozah bint Nasser, chairperson of Qatar Foundation and wife of the emir of Qatar, who launched the summit in 2009.

One of the proactive measures cited by organizers was to set up a task force to rebuild the education system in Haiti and bring education to children left out of learning opportunities, especially after the deadly earthquake that hit the country in January 2010.

“The WISE awards have showcased teams with innovative best practices. Some successful initiatives include rebuilding the education system in deadly earthquake-hit Haiti, which started last year,” said Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani, chairman of WISE and the Qatar Foundation at the summit. 

By Lee Woo-young, Korea Herald correspondent
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