Reimagining education: 2023 Yidan Prize Summit explores innovative ideas that spark change

HONG KONG, Dec. 5, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — The Yidan Prize Foundation, the global philanthropic foundation behind the world’s highest education accolade, hosted its highly anticipated Yidan Prize Summit in Hong Kong on 4 December, under the theme of “Ideas that spark change: a spotlight on solutions advancing education”.

In a rapidly changing world, it has become vital to equip all learners with creative and critical thinking skills, for them to become well-rounded, global citizens. To discuss how we can better meet the needs of today’s learners, the 2023 Yidan Prize Summit brought together education experts, policymakers, and philanthropic foundations to explore innovative ideas in research and practice—all with the power to broaden access to quality education.

Dr Charles CHEN Yidan, Founder of the Yidan Prize, welcomed guests from around the world, emphasizing that ideas can spark change. He said, “These visionary educators with us today firmly believe in the transformative power of ideas. Their collective vision leads people to understand that all students can and must succeed. They challenge us to reconceive what good classrooms and good teaching practices look like. They lead us to the conclusion that good education can be made available to everyone. Their actions are continuously reshaping education, further solidifying their commitment to this belief.”

Joe Colombano, Head, Office of the UN Resident Coordinator in China, opened with a keynote on the need for renewed investment and innovation in education. He reflected on the concept of what education quality means today and proposed thoughtful questions to set the stage for the day’s discussions. He emphasized that education must keep pace with the changing needs of the economy and underscored the broader goals of education beyond pure employment — as a means for all learners to reach their full potential. Colombano noted that quality education is much more than one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), it is also the catalyst to achieve all 17 SDGs.

On the first panel, education experts from The University of Hong Kong joined Professor Michelene (Micki) Chi, 2023 Yidan Prize for Education Research Laureate, Michelene (Micki) Chi, Regents Professor & Dorothy Bray Endowed Professor of Science and Teaching, Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, Arizona State University. They talked about Micki’s groundbreaking theory of cognitive engagement—called ICAP—which gives teachers a proven framework to facilitate quality engagement in the classroom, helping to improve teaching methods from kindergarten through to postsecondary level and beyond. Moderated by Dr Christopher Thomas, Director of Partnerships at Yidan Prize Foundation, the panelists spoke about how interactive, constructive and active learning activities develop students’ autonomy and encourage collaboration.

In the second panel, Dr Laura Savage, Executive Director, International Education Funders Group (IEFG), talked to leaders who are successfully galvanizing social change to ensure more students have access to the transformative power of education. Members of the Yidan Council of Luminaries, Dr Rukmini Banerji, Vicky Colbert, and Wendy Kopp each reflected on their common experience of catalyzing systems change by leveraging the influence of a shared mission and collective —and locally rooted—leadership. They talked about the importance of foundational learning, strong partnerships with government and civil society, and how everyone—from parents to university students—can become agents of change.

In the afternoon, the summit explored how innovative models of higher education can break down barriers to accessibility and affordability. 2023 Yidan Prize for Education Development Laureate, Shai Reshef, President and Founder, University of the People, talked to Professor Arthur Levine, President Emeritus of Teachers College, Columbia University, about how we can ensure higher education keeps pace with our changing global and digital knowledge economies. Shai talked about the importance of embracing the potential of open-source, online technology, so that every qualified student can have access to quality higher education.

In the last session of the day, 2020 Yidan Prize for Education Development Laureates Lucy Lake and Angeline Murimirwa joined Baela Raza Jamil, CEO, Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi, and Ruth Kagia, Former Global Education Director, World Bank, to discuss radical inclusion in education. They talked about how putting the most marginalized and vulnerable at the heart of policymaking is the key to driving change in and through education. The panelists noted that radical inclusion is bold and unapologetic: every student must be educated and protected. Intersectionality and collaboration amongst policymakers and education researchers and practitioners are non-negotiable in this process.

Celebrating the 2023 Yidan Prize laureates

On 3 December, Professor Michelene Chi and Shai Reshef were formally awarded the 2023 Yidan Prize for Education Research and the 2023 Yidan Prize for Education Development respectively at the Yidan Prize Awards Ceremony. They were recognized for their extraordinary work in creating opportunities for learners to fulfill their potential. They join the Yidan Prize Foundation’s global community of education changemakers and the Yidan Council of Luminaries.

Nominate education changemakers for the 2024 Yidan Prize

The Yidan Prize is open for nominations until 31 March 2024. To learn more about the opportunity or to nominate changemakers, visit the Yidan Prize website:

Professor Michelene Chi, 2023 Yidan Prize for Education Research Laureate opens the panel, ‘Rethinking how we teach based on how students learn: putting theory into practice’.
Shai Reshef, 2023 Yidan Prize Laureate for Education Development joined Professor Arthur Levine for a fireside chat: ‘Reimagining higher education: a new model for accessibility and affordability’.


The Yidan Prize Foundation is a global philanthropic foundation, with a mission of creating a better world through education. Through its prize and network of innovators, the Yidan Prize Foundation supports ideas and practices in education—specifically, ones with the power to positively change lives and society.

The Yidan Prize is an inclusive education accolade that recognizes individuals or teams who have contributed significantly to the theory and practice of education.

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