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Wenhui (文 晖) Award for Educational Innovation 2016

Innovative Partnerships for Quality Inclusive Education





Parvarish – The Museum School

Organization for Awareness of Integrated Social Security (OASiS), India

The education system in India has improved substantially but disparity between the rich and poor remains a huge concern. Children from well-to-do families are able to access the best and benefit from the system, but those from poor families often lack the education and training needed to enable them to become more than semi-skilled workers. The problem, however, lies not in the availability, but in the quality, of education provided to them.

To reduce the educational disparity between the rich and poor, the Organization for Awareness of Integrated Social Security (OASiS) identified an under-utilized asset in cities – museums (e.g., Science Museum, Natural History Museum, Arts Museum) with exhibits covering a variety of subjects that are suitable for all ages but are often marketed as tourist destinations rather than learning centres. Tapping into this niche resource, OASiS established the Museum School to bring quality education to the urban poor and underprivileged children with the museums providing an open learning space where children learn by doing, touching and observing models and artefacts.

OASiS also realized that the teacher training institutions located in urban areas have a large population of students who need practical training but have difficulties in securing placements in schools for their practicum. These teacher trainees could be recruited to conduct the educational programmes of the Museum School.

As a result, OASiS collaborated with the various museums, mapped their exhibits to match the school curriculum for different subjects, coordinated with teacher education institutions to train their students to use the museum exhibits as part of their practicum. Eight slum areas with a large number of children not going to school and school dropouts were selected for the project. An average of 50 new children between 5 and 10 years old are selected to join the programme each year based on their economic situation, with special preference for children who are working or begging. Girls from the same slum areas are also recruited and trained as teachers to improve the children’s literacy skills. These girls eventually gain recognition and status among their communities, acquire new skills and confidence, and become counsellors for their communities.

The initial focus is on literacy, oratory skills and confidence building to help return dropouts to schools. In subsequent years, the children are taught concepts of various subjects through the museums, including soft skills and arts-based skills by paid artists and eminent volunteers. Adolescent students are taught vocational and entrepreneurial skills of their choice.

Innovative partnership is a key factor of the project as seen in the collaboration with the museums, teacher training institutions, volunteers, communities and other organizations such as iPartner UK, Sir Dorabji Tata Trust, NGO Eklavya Bhopal and CEFI Bangalore. The impact of the Museum School is clearly reflected by the performance of children who have joined mainstream schools (their school results are above average with better oratory skills) and in improvements to the lives of the students, their families and female Literacy Teachers.

Wenhui (文 晖) Award for Educational Innovation 2016



    Community Centres

    Science of Life Studies 247 (SOLS 24/7), Malaysia

    Education enables an individual, irrespective of how poor or disadvantaged, the ability to progressively chart his/her future. Deprived of education, people in poor and underserved communities are often unaware and/or unable to take advantage of opportunities that can help to improve their living conditions.

    The Science of Life Studies 247 (SOLS 24/7) was first established as a small youth development centre in Malacca, Malaysia, to serve, educate and empower students from low- to middle-income families. Through a partnership between SOLS 24/7, Better Malaysia Foundation and Berjaya Cares Foundation, 70 community centres were set up throughout Malaysia offering free education and training programmes in English language, computing, life skills and community development. The programmes target housewives in the morning, children in the afternoon, and youth and adults at night, thus truly serving the entire community. The community centres are also used as hubs for the library programme (establish reading spaces), SOLS Tech (distribution of refurbished computers), SHIELD (provision of mental health services), and (platform serving NGOs), and many more projects amplifying the impact on the community.

    Students who successfully completed the programmes based on three pillars: (i) Science of Language (English Language programme), (ii) Science of Life, and (iii) Science of Technology showed significant improvement in their school results and performance at work. Adult students have benefitted from the programmes with 84% indicating that their ability to converse comfortably in English has enhanced their career growth, business opportunities or personal development.

    Each community centre is managed by a manager who lives in the community for one to two years, thereby fostering better understanding and closer relationship with community members. SOLS 24/7 is able to offer its programmes for free by leveraging under-utilised existing facilities (e.g., local community hall), collaboration with stakeholders from the local community and the private sector, and by involving volunteers in delivering the services. Fast mobilisation, effective processes, large community outreach and vast experiences have resulted in the community centres being set up within less than one month upon confirmation from the community.

    SOLS 24/7 began operations in other countries in 2000 with more than 220 training and boarding centres set up in Cambodia, East Timor, Laos, India, Malaysia as well as Thailand. Today, SOLS 24/7 has become the largest non-formal education provider serving poor and rural communities across Southeast Asia.

    Wenhui (文 晖) Award for Educational Innovation 2016


      Honourable Commendation:

      Youth Leading the World to Sustainable, Just and Peaceful Futures

      Oz GREEN Global Rivers Environmental Education Network Australia Inc. Australia

      Concerns about the environment, unhealthy lifestyles, excessive consumerism and other social issues have heightened the need for sustainable solutions. While many initiatives to address these problems are top-down, there is also increasing recognition that youth and local communities directly affected by the challenges may be better positioned to improve their own environment and lives.

      Oz GREEN, an independent not-for-profit that operates in Australia and globally in South Asia, Timor Leste and Central America, embraces three pillars of sustainability: (i) equity for current generations, (ii) equity for future generations and (iii) biodiversity conservation. Its approach features sustainability education, transformative leadership and community innovation to teach people to think for themselves and become sustainability leaders for positive social changes.

      The Youth Leading the World project (YLTW), one of Oz GREEN’s many initiatives, is an eco-entrepreneurial, leadership programme for youth between 15 and 25 years old to individually and collaboratively design and undertake projects that improve the environment and drive change towards sustainability through workshops, mentoring and networks. The creation of a space for young people to express their passion, focus, drive and vision, in tandem with the provision of tools and training, is critical for their transformation in becoming leaders and active citizens in their communities. As part of an inclusive, tangible and scalable project, real-time-live-online Facilitator Training makes YLTW accessible even to remote communities.

      YLTW has benefitted more than 100 regions, with over 750 facilitators trained, directly involving over 12,500 young people and indirectly reaching over 500,000 people through the outcomes of the process. Innovative partnership is the key to the success of YLTW, which is delivered in collaboration with local community organisations, business, government, schools, universities, environmental and youth organisations.


      Honourable Commendation:

      Educational Innovations for Quality Inclusive Education

      Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM), Bangladesh

      In Bangladesh where the distribution of resources is not equitable, poverty is pervasive. The high number of dropouts and out-of-school children attests to the unequal access to education, low quality education as well as various forms of discrimination.

      The Dhaka Ahsania Mission (DAM) is a non-profit organization working to improve the quality of life of people with limited rights to education, health, livelihood, human rights and social justice. DAM’s community-based multi-dimensional quality education programmes for children include multi-grade classes, remedial and preventive education services for slow learners of targeted government and registered primary schools, early childhood development and pre-primary education programmes. Community engagement is a key factor in enhancing local ownership with the aim of making the communities more resilient and vibrant.

      DAM had reached around 24 million beneficiaries in 46 out of a total of 64 districts. Its inclusive education has benefitted 337,467 out-of-school children and dropouts, including indigenous children of Chittagong Hill Tracts in the hardest to reach areas in Bangladesh. It has provided remedial and preventive education services through 739 trained teachers to 84,400 slow learners, and established the Children City to house 10,000 abandoned street children aged 6-8 years old. Through its contributions to Bangladesh’s non-formal system, 226,103 of its learners were mainstreamed into formal primary and secondary schools, with an increase in girl’s enrollment and retension rate in secondary schools as well as a decrease in child marriages.

      Such impressive achievements can be attributed to its strong partnership with a consortium of several NGOs and international agencies on the one hand, and with local communities on the other.


      Honourable Commendation:

      Specialised Schools for Students at Risk of Dropping Out

      Institute of Technical Education, Singapore

      Before 2007, students in Singapore who did not meet the academic requirements for entry into secondary schools had to re-sit the Primary School Leaving Examination until they attained the needed academic foundation or were old enough to take up vocational training. Unfortunately, some tended to drop out at this stage. Students who are unable to access secondary education can experience self-doubt and disappointment. Many of these students are also from disadvantaged homes, without strong socio-economic capital and family support. They often lack a sense of self-worth and aspirations in life. There is a social cost in the long run when these children leave the education system prematurely, or enter the workforce ill-equipped and become trapped in low-paying jobs.

      In response, the Singapore Ministry of Education established two specialised schools (NorthLight School in 2007 and Assumption Pathway School in 2009) to provide these students with a customised three-year skills training programme. A consideration when setting up the specialised schools was that students should not feel inferior or disadvantaged when choosing to attend these schools. A deliberate selection process was made to recruit a cadre of like-minded professionals with a deep sense of mission to foster a caring and supportive learning environment. A “whole-school” approach was adopted to meet their learning needs, which include curriculum domains of character education, foundational education and vocational education.

      The Institute of Technical Education’s role includes the provision of input on policy guidelines, networks, infrastructure and resources, as well as the development and review of curriculum and assessment for vocational courses. Forging partnerships between ministries and education institutions was valuable in sparking new ways of thinking to address a pressing social need. By capitalising on networks and linkages with industries, corporations, schools, civic groups, community leaders and individuals, the partnerships have given a “second chance” to students to help them to become self-reliant and be equipped with life and employability skills.


      Honourable Commendation:

      Youth Employment Solutions (YES) Digital Ecosystem

      Plan International in Asia, Thailand

      The global youth unemployment rate sits at 14%. In East and South East Asia, the rate is lower at 12% while South Asia is pegged at 10%. The International Labour Organization (ILO) believes the youth unemployment rate remains stubbornly high, and is expected to increase in 2015. The emergence of Information Communication and Technology for development (ICT4D) offers a great potential for students to be deeply engaged in their learning experiences and easier for teachers to deliver the curricula.

      Capitalizing on ICT4D’s contribution to promote young people’s economic security through quality education for decent work, Plan International developed the Youth Employment Solutions (YES!) Digital Ecosystem. As a system of interconnected ICT products that offer a “one-stop-eShop” to youth employment professionals and young people, it aims to make the design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of education and skills development programmes more cost-efficient, friendlier and accessible to both teachers and students.

      The suite of tools includes the (i) Yes! Hub, the go-to platform for all the knowledge and resource needs of education for employment professionals; (ii) YES! Academy, a Learning Management System (LMS) for education and skills building for youth employment initiatives; and (iii) YES! ME, a monitoring system that can trace individual beneficiaries for up to five years’ post-programme, and measure the impact the project at individual and aggregate levels.

      The YES! Digital Ecosystem has been adopted in Indonesia, Philippines, Vietnam and India, and by Plan’s partners including REACH, an NGO based in Vietnam, and the Saksham project in India. AIESEC, the world’s largest youth organization, is set to conduct youth-driven market scans in India in 2016, utilizing the YES! Digital Ecosystem.

      Partnership has played a significant role in the development and roll out of the YES Digital Ecosystem, with much of the success arising from the efforts and commitment of corporate and development partners such as Accenture, Save the Children, Asian Development Bank, and Plan’s national offices and their respective partners.