Just like you need air, just like you need water, just like you need food, you need education.” says Madhav Chavan. His efforts combined with zest and zeal to make education accessible to all has fetched him the year’s biggest awards in the field of International education. Dr Chavan is the winner of the WISE Prize which is equivalent to the Nobel Prize for education.
The award announced on Tuesday at the WISE summit Qatar, recognises his work in the field education in the slums of Mumbai. Dr Chavan, a former chemistry lecturer, he came up with an idea to provide education and literacy to millions at a minimal cost.
"Much more remains to be done," said Dr Chavan, when he received the prize. The international award, which comes with a prize of $500,000 (£314,000), recognises Dr Chavan's efforts to provide lessons in literacy for disadvantaged children and adults in India.
The award is decided by an international jury, which includes the US Librarian of Congress, Dr James Billington; the president of Peking University, Prof Zhou Qifeng; former UN high commissioner, Mary Robinson and the chairman of WISE, Dr Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani.
Dr Chavan began his social activism helping uneducated slum-dwellers in Mumbai in the late 1980s, when he returned to India after studying in the United States. He worked with UNICEF and the city authorities, where he developed an innovative system for providing lessons for large numbers of people at low cost. His charity, Pratham, is known to run lessons in temples and offices and recruit volunteers from the local community.He also says that this prize is a major landmark which frequently reminds him how much more needs to be done.
"This prize is a major landmark that reminds me how much more remains to be done. It is an enormous honour for me to be recognised by this unique community of innovators," said Dr Chavan.
Dr Abdulla bin Ali Al-Thani said the award winner had "brought light into the lives of many millions of people".
"His story combines the passion of a social entrepreneur with the patience and method of a scientist. His approach shows that the most important resources for successful innovation are a clear vision, determination and the ability to apply unrecognised capacities to a shared cause."
Read more about Dr Madhav Chavan here.
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