India Leading Innovation In Education: Four Projects Shortlisted For The 2021 Wise Awards

Doha: WISE, an Initiative of Qatar Foundation, announced today the 12 projects selected among the 2021 WISE Awards finalists: AISECT; ‘Pehchan’ by Centre for Unfolding Potentials (CULP); Creating Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs for Children in Indian Public Schools by the Labhya Foundation; and the Happiness Curriculum by Dream a Dream. The four projects give access to learning opportunities, digital literacy and social-emotional learning to marginalized communities, making sure every child reaches their full potential.

Underprivileged Women Entrepreneurship and Skilling at AISECT is bringing ICT centres for vocational training to women in rural and semi-urban communities. Their multipurpose centres combined classes taught in local languages and maintenance services, allowing the centres to be economically viable and involving the whole community. By combining free vocational training, skills development like entrepreneurship and job placement programs, the AISECT model has trained 400,000 marginalized girls in 400 districts in India. In addition to that number, 2,000 women entrepreneurs emerged from the program, accounting for the employment of 5,000 people today.

“Pehchan” by the Centre for Unfolding Potentials (CULP) educates out-of-school children, especially adolescent girls, in marginalized communities in Rajasthan. Through a contextualized curriculum, a pedagogy focused on girls’ empowerment and an emphasis on teacher-student interaction and skills development, the project allows girls to access elementary education and re-integrating mainstream schooling. So far, it has benefitted 478,000 children aged 6 to 18 years old.

Creating Social Emotional Learning (SEL) Programs for Children in Indian Public Schools by the Labhya Foundation partners with governments, multilateral organizations and nonprofits to co-create scalable and contextualized social-emotional learning programs for vulnerable children across public education systems. Children learn and practice social and emotional skills like mindfulness, goal setting, emotion control, positively impacting both their behaviors and the teacher-student relationships. Today, Labhya Foundation is implementing the world’s largest SEL program, being present in 20,000 public schools and currently impacting over 2 million vulnerable children.

The Happiness Curriculum by Dream a Dream partnered with the Delhi government to create a space in the school curricula dedicated to well-being, happiness, mindfulness, critical thinking and other important social-emotional skills. Their groundbreaking work positively impacted 800,000 students in 1,024 schools, who became more involved and focused in class. Teachers started prioritizing values over academic success and increased collaboration with their peers.

Stavros N. Yiannouka, CEO of WISE, an initiative of Qatar Foundation, commented on the announcement, saying: “As we continue to navigate the long term and short-term effects of the global pandemic on education, the need for innovation is all the more urgent because of the systemic shortcomings that the crisis has exacerbated around the globe.

“In this context, the work celebrated by the WISE Awards is critically important. Each of the 2021 finalists has built an effective, tested solution to a global educational challenge. Whether ensuring parental access to fundamental early childhood education, imparting social-emotional learning skills to children across school districts, or opening access to free knowledge and materials for offline learning, each project is already transforming lives and provides an inspirational model for others to emulate.

“As we look forward to recognizing 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.”


Tackling pressing global educational and hailing from 9 countries, the finalists were selected by a panel of international experts. The other shortlisted projects are: Kinedu (Mexico); Onebillion by Onebillion children (United Kingdom); Trauma Informed Schools by Maya Vakfi Foundation (Turkey); Let’s All Learn to Read by Fundacion Luker (Colombia); Kiwix (Switzerland); Taleemabad by Orenda Project (Pakistan); ProFuturo Digital Education Programme by Telefonica Foundation and “la Caixa” Foundation (Spain); Civic leadership fellowships for education equity by Anseye Pou Ayiti (Haiti).

Submissions received this year were evaluated on strict criteria, such as the initiatives must be already established, and demonstrate how they have already had a transformative impact on individuals, communities, and society in their context. Projects also need to be financially stable, have a clear development plan, and be scalable and replicable.

The winners of the WISE Awards will be announced in September 2021 and celebrated at the WISE Summit, on December 8th and 9th. In addition to visibility and networking opportunities, each project will receive $20,000 (US).

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