Professor Usha Goswami (left) and Fazle Hasan Abed. Photo: The Yidan Prize

The winners of the Yidan Prize, set up by Charles Chen Yidan, one of the founders of Tencent Holdings, were announced on Thursday and two people took the prizes in the awards’ third year after a six-month judging process.

Usha Goswami, Professor of Cognitive Developmental Neuroscience at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, was awarded the Yidan Prize for Education Research.

Goswami’s neuroscience research has identified the importance of children’s awareness of linguistic rhythm patterns for their reading acquisition and also revealed the brain basis of rhythm perception, showing how this neural process is impaired in developmental dyslexia.

He has made great strides in understanding brain functions so educators can design different teaching pedagogy, techniques and tools to help children with dyslexia and special needs to learn languages more effectively.

Fazle Hasan Abed, a social worker and founder and Chair Emeritus of Bangladesh’s BRAC, won the Yidan Prize for Education Development in recognition and support of his ground-breaking work.

His work of innovative Play Labs allows the poorest and the most vulnerable children to obtain high-quality and low-cost early childhood education. Established in 1972, BRAC is an international organization with a focus on empowering the poor, especially women and girls, to achieve their full potential through education. It is working each year with more than 100 million people globally.

The winner of each prize receives a gold medal, a cash prize of HK$15 million (US$1.9 million) and a project fund of HK$15 million based on the principle of impact investment. The two laureates will receive their awards at the Yidan Prize Awards Presentation Ceremony in December.

This year’s laureates were chosen by the Yidan Prize Judging Committee from a pool of strong candidates. The geographical reach of the nominated projects this year covered 129 countries or regions including China, the United States, India, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and Brazil.

“Knowledge attainment is an area that transcends racial, religious, economic and national boundaries, affecting everything from human health and the environment to well-being and personal fulfillment. I hope every country and region can benefit from the results of the best research and education development work, helping to create a better world through education,” said Chen, who launched The Yidan Prize with an independent trust of HK$2.5 billion (US$323 million) in 2016.

“I believe, in the future, education will continue to evolve – alongside with technological breakthrough and social change – and we will have deeper understanding on education,” he added. “To me, education itself is not an end goal; it is an ongoing process to help mankind pursue long-term individual well-being and sustainable social development.”

Read: Two education veterans win Yidan Prize for 2017

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