Yidan Prize Foundation
Partner Content
Yidan Prize Foundation
This content was paid for by Yidan Prize Foundation and produced in partnership with the Financial Times Commercial department.

Learning solutions for the 21st century: The transformative impact of teachers

It takes big ideas and bold action to overcome global educational challenges and create a better future. The Yidan Prize Foundation supports new thinking that transforms how we teach and learn.

The need to drive global education impact has never been more pressing as the world prepares to redress pandemic-era learning losses. In developing countries, the share of children unable to read basic text by age 10 could soar to 70 per cent1, according to a joint United Nations and World Bank report. Globally, the report says, this generation of students risks losing a staggering $17 trillion in lifetime wages, or roughly 14 per cent of today’s global gross domestic product.

In response to this challenge, the Yidan Prize Foundation is championing transformative solutions that not only bridge education gaps but also pave the way to a brighter future. Since 2016, the foundation has awarded the Yidan Prize to individuals and teams who contribute significantly to education research and development — out of a conviction that learning is “the key to global sustainable development”.

The 2022 Yidan Prize laureates, Dr Linda Darling-Hammond and Professor Yongxin Zhu, empower educators and promote inclusive and equitable access to education to ensure every learner can reach their full potential.

2022 Yidan Prize for Education Research Laureate, Dr Linda Darling-Hammond is the Charles E. Ducommun professor of education emeritus at Stanford University, and president and chief executive officer of the Learning Policy Institute. She founded LPI in 2015, aiming to shape education policy and practice with high-quality and actionable research. 

Dr Linda Darling-Hammond, 2022 Yidan Prize for Education Research Laureate

Her work reflects commitment to two broad ideas. First, that designing effective policy and practice needs innovative and actionable research. And second, that researchers need to engage with policymakers to create a better world through education. Uniting these two perspectives has earned her recognition from practitioners and policymakers. 

With the Yidan Prize funds, Darling-Hammond will scale up her critical work at LPI’s Educator Preparation Laboratory (EdPrepLab), a research, policy, and practice network focused on supporting student-centred, equity-focused educator preparation programmes, which are grounded in the science of learning and development. She will expand the reach of EdPrepLab, adding new programmes, investing in new research and creating a space where educators, researchers, and policymakers can easily share and learn from each other.

Darling-Hammond’s work has studied and empowered the work of educators in the US, Australia, Canada, China, Finland, and Singapore, as well as other countries. Her research-tools have wide applicability internationally, supporting policy and practice to create more effective and equitable education opportunities for diverse learners.

2022 Yidan Prize for Education Development Laureate, Professor Yongxin Zhu is founder of the New Education Initiative and professor of the school of education at Soochow University. He founded NEI in 2000 to address some of the most intractable challenges in education. Through programmes anchored on improving reading, writing and communication, NEI continually delivers higher quality, more accessible and more inclusive education — particularly in hard-to-reach schools. These methods change how teachers approach professional development and how students learn — including fostering a positive learning culture at home and boosting both student and teacher motivation.

Professor Yongxin Zhu, 2022 Yidan Prize for Education Development Laureate

Zhu’s NEI programmes create a collaborative approach to learning. Teachers, students, and families work together towards clear learning goals, deepening education outcomes beyond a focus on teaching-to-test and exams. 

He plans to use the Yidan Prize funds to develop a cloud-based learning hub, expanding NEI's reach and delivering quality training online to support teachers across China. 

Over the past two decades, Zhu has made a huge impact on China’s education landscape and beyond, with his books now translated into 28 languages. Today, his NEI programmes support the well-being and development of teachers, reaching over 8,300 schools, over 500,000 teachers and 8 million students across China — more than half of which are in rural and remote areas.

“Their work clearly shows the transformative impact that teachers can have on learners,” said Edward Ma, secretary-general of the Yidan Prize Foundation. “And when students have great teachers, they have great opportunities.”

The Yidan Prize Foundation shares the common ambition of the philanthropic community to transform education across the world — especially in those communities most at risk of being left behind. Such positive change in education comes down to encouraging and leveraging innovation and expanding our collective knowledge base. 

The foundation believes that supporting and scaling projects of laureates such as Darling-Hammond and Zhu can amplify this much-needed transformation in education. Beyond the prize fund, it also inspires thought leadership and advocates for changes by hosting forums for the brightest minds in learning. The global philanthropy community recognizes that working together is critical, and the Yidan Prize Foundation empowers education leaders to initiate change through collaboration — both locally and globally.

No one would underestimate the challenges the world faces when it comes to education in the 21st century. Changemakers such as Darling-Hammond and Zhu are providing teaching and learning solutions that help overcome those challenges — and create a better world through education.

Learn more about the inspiring work of the Yidan Prize Foundation