2020 WISE Awards Finalists Announced, WISE Has Selected Two Finalists From India

Doha: Qatar Foundation’s flagship education initiative, WISE, has selected two finalists from India for the 2020 WISE Awards. StoryWeaver, an initiative of Pratham Books, and Solar Electrification with Enriched Education from Barefoot College demonstrate how innovative approaches can bridge urgent education challenges. Each year, the WISE Awards recognize and promote innovative projects from around the world that are addressing global educational challenges.

Pratham Book’s StoryWeaver is a digital platform that addresses the global book gap by providing open and free access to quality storybooks in multiple languages to promote reading acquisition among children. At the platform’s core, is a repository of high quality, openly licensed, multilingual storybooks from Pratham Books and other reputed publishers. While the platform is digital, the books are available in multiple formats to overcome the issue of digital access and can be read online, offline, or downloaded and printed. StoryWeaver has also embedded simple tools on the platform that allow users to further translate and version the books for localized requirements. This has led to a massive increase of over 2200% in the availability of local language books. Today it provides access to 19,000 books in 233 languages.

Suzanne Singh, chairperson of Pratham Books, commented StoryWeaver’s vision is to massively scale the creation and distribution of reading resources for children in mother tongue languages. Our endeavor is to address the global scarcity of books for children and arm every child with the power of knowledge and opportunity. By providing access to thousands of storybooks, the platform has enabled educators to make classrooms more engaging, libraries more diverse and most importantly, make learning fun for children. With StoryWeaver, we have opened up a new pathway to nurture a generation of readers”. 

Barefoot College’s approach to education is to make it sustainable and accessible to everyone. Their educational programs benefit 2.2 million people in over 90 countries.

Barefoot College’s literacy-optional, language-independent sign-language and color-coding curriculum called ENRICHE, teach digital and financial literacy, civil and human rights, health and microenterprise production, with vocational and educational elements that can be added on according to the customized needs of each community. Solar Electrification with Enriched Education trains women as fully-fledged solar engineers and then provides them with the tools to solar electrify their communities, which in turn allows them access to clean water and sanitation. The program is scaled across the entire remote community according to its needs, leading to the founding of businesses, and the monetization of local skills. Ultimately this approach is made sustainable and self-renewing by the security of renewable energy and stable income arising from small local businesses.

“We are incredibly gratified and excited that WISE has selected us. We feel deeply privileged to have drawn WISE’s attention to the work we do, and we are delighted to be a part of this group of inspirational finalists” said Sue Stevenson, Director of Strategic Partnerships and International Development.

The 15 WISE Awards finalists come from 10 countries and were selected by a pre-Jury of international experts.

Stavros N. Yiannouka, CEO of WISE, said: “Our world is experiencing a crisis that is affecting all facets of our lives. Education is no exception, and indeed the need for innovation is all the more urgent because of the systemic shortcomings that the crisis has exposed. In this context, the work celebrated by the WISE Awards is critically important. Each of the 2020 WISE Awards finalists has built an effective, tested solution to a global educational challenge. Whether ensuring access to fundamental early childhood education or imparting valuable entrepreneurship and financial literacy skills, each project is already transforming lives, and provides an inspirational model for others to emulate. As we look forward to recognising this year’s WISE Awards winners it is imperative that policymakers and civil society leaders around the world seriously address the need to bring some of these innovations to scale.”

The other 2020 Finalists are MyMachine, Stawisha Leadership Institute, MAIA Impact School, Dengbe’ Bide (“Two Rabbits” in Baka), Education for Sharing (E4S), Centro Educativo Tecnico Chixot – Hero School, Think Equal, The Junior Achievement Africa Company Program, SignLab, Parenting the Future (PTF), Justice Changemaker Program, Transformational Teacher Training,  and Arkki International – Creative Education for Future Innovators.

The 2020 Finalists were selected from a pool of 625 submissions evaluated according to strict criteria. Selected projects must be established, innovative educational projects that have already demonstrated a transformative impact on individuals, communities, and society of their context. They also need to be financially stable, have a clear development plan, and be scalable and replicable.

The WISE Awards winning projects will be announced in October 2020 and celebrated at a WISE event. In addition to publicity and networking opportunities, each project will receive $20,000 (US).

For further information, visit http://www.wise-qatar.org/wise-awards.