"People Have the Power": Sir Fazle Abed Wins $500,000 WISE Prize for Education
In honor of that award, we're republishing a segment from our October interview with Abed, in which he talks about what women and girls can teach the world.
This morning in Qatar, Sir Fazle Abed won the half-million dollar WISE prize -- conceived as the "Nobel prize" of Education -- in recognition of his lifetime achievements towards making knowledge a fundamental right. In honor of that award, we're republishing a segment from our October interview with Abed.
What's the Big Idea?
Recently, Big Think sat down with Sir Fazle Abed, founder of the microfinance organization BRAC, to ask, what can we do to empower women and girls throughout the world?
What's the Significance?
Influenced by anti-imperialist philosophers Frantz Fanon and Paulo Freire, Abed believes that the solutions to a community's problems should be generated from within it, by those it most affects, not outside of it. BRAC began with the impetus to "look to people to solve the multiplicity of problems that they face."
The first initiative the organization undertook in 1972 was aimed at reducing child deaths due to dehydration, the cause of eighteen percent of child deaths worldwide. BRAC went to nearly every home in the countryside to teach mothers to make oral-rehydration solutions at in their own kitchens. Over the course of ten years, child mortality was reduced from 258 deaths per 1,000 to 75 deaths per 1,000.
This early victory inspired Abed to see women above all as change agents. Women bring communities together, says Abed, investing 90% of their income back in to their families, as compared to 30% by men. "If we want to change our society, we need to focus our attention on our women, who are not going to abandon anybody," he says. Since its inception, BRAC has dispersed over $1 billion dollars in loans to women to start small businesses, mainly in dairy and chicken-farming.
But the belief that people have the power to shape heir own destinies is not the same as an insistence that they go at it alone, says Abed. "I have always believed, not in minimalist micro finance, but in micro finance with a plus, plus. The first plus means providing support in terms of imports and services and training. And the other plus means providing [women] healthcare, education for their children, so that [they can] afford to send their children to school."
Today, almost 5 million children have gone through BRAC’s network of 40,000 single-teacher primary schools - currently, about 10% of the school-age population attends a BRAC school. And 80% of the organization's yearly budget is created right where it started - in the farms and fisheries of Bangladesh.
“In these difficult financial times, as more and more people rise up to speak for the ‘99%,’ occupying streets across various cities of the world, the issue of inequity has been thrown into the forefront of world politics,” said Abed, at the World Innovation Summit for Education in Qatar, where he accepted the prize. “How do we begin to address this? We start with education – because education is the great equalizer.”
Read the original post here.
Sharon Salzberg, world-renowned mindfulness leader, teaches meditation at Big Think Edge.
- Try meditation for the first time with this guided lesson or, if you already practice, enjoy being guided by a world-renowned meditation expert.
- Sharon Salzberg teaches mindfulness meditation for Big Think Edge.
- Subscribe to Big Think Edge before we launch on March 30 to get 20% off monthly and annual memberships.
The navigation tool has placed a school in the sea, among other things.
- Google has apologized for the sudden instability of its maps in Japan.
- Errors may stem from Google's long-time map data provider Zenrin – or from the cancellation of its contract.
- Speculation on the latter option caused Zenrin shares to drop 16% last Friday.
They didn't know it, but the rituals of Iron Age Scandinavians turned their iron into steel.
- Iron Age Scandinavians only had access to poor quality iron, which put them at a tactical disadvantage against their neighbors.
- To strengthen their swords, smiths used the bones of their dead ancestors and animals, hoping to transfer the spirit into their blades.
- They couldn't have known that in so doing, they actually were forging a rudimentary form of steel.
A new computer model solves a pair of Jovian riddles.
- Astronomers have wondered how a gas giant like Jupiter could sit in the middle of our solar system's planets.
- Also unexplained has been the pair of asteroid clusters in front of and behind Jupiter in its orbit.
- Putting the two questions together revealed the answer to both.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.