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Chinese professor wins top education accolade

By Zou Shuo | | Updated: 2022-09-30 14:27
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Chinese education expert Zhu Yongxin has won the 2022 Yidan Prize, the world's highest education accolade, for his work in improving teaching quality and transforming learning outcomes in China, the Yidan Prize Foundation said on Thursday.

Zhu, professor at the School of Education of Soochow University, founded the New Education Initiative in 2000. The initiative has benefited more than 8,300 schools, more than 500,000 teachers and 8 million students across China—more than half of which are in rural and remote areas, according to a news release.

The NEI supports the development of teachers, students and parents through different means and have made important contributions to China's education development and reforms, the release said.

Founded in 2016, the Yidan Prize Foundation honors individuals or teams that have significantly contributed to the theory and practice of education. Each laureate is awarded HK$30 million ($3.9 million), half of which is cash reward and the other half will serve as a project fund to help them scale their education projects and support more learners globally.

Zhu said he will donate the cash reward to his alma mater Soochow University for research and promoting education innovation. And the Yidan Prize funds will be used to expand NEI's reach in remote, rural areas in China and develop a cloud-based learning hub, improving education quality and providing inclusive and equitable access to education for all learners.

Dorothy K Gordon, head of Yidan Prize for Education Development judging panel, and board member of the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, said Zhu is successfully addressing some of the most intractable challenges in education: improving equity and inclusiveness.

He has succeeded in gradually changing how teachers approach professional development and how students learn in classrooms and at home. Perhaps most importantly, he reminds us of the importance of joy and well-being for every learner, she said.

Linda Darling-Hammond, Charles E Ducommun professor of Education Emeritus at Stanford University, also was awarded the prize for her work in shaping education policy and practice around the most equitable and effective ways to teach and learn.

She will scale up her critical work at Educator Preparation Laboratory, a network focused on supporting student-centered, equity-focused teacher preparation programs, which are grounded in the science of learning and development and prepare teachers to help all students learn in empowering ways.

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