The Yidan Prize Foundation: Advancing Educational Change Through Impactful Research

Education has the power to transform lives and lift entire societies. As the challenges of our time become increasingly complex, fostering innovative thinking in education becomes ever more critical. The Yidan Prize Foundation was established in 2016 with a vision of creating a more just and harmonious world through education. By recognizing and supporting impactful research in education, the Foundation seeks to promote educational change and advancement globally. 

What is the Yidan Prize Foundation?

The Yidan Prize Foundation is a Hong Kong based charitable foundation focused on education. It was established in 2016 by Dr. Charles CHEN Yidan, a former President of Tencent Holdings with a personal donation of HK$2.5 billion (US$320 million). The Foundation aims to create a global platform for recognizing excellence and innovation in education, as well as promote collaboration between educators, researchers and policy makers.

Through the Yidan Prize and Yidan Council of Luminaries Network, the Foundation identifies and supports ideas and projects with the potential to drive real positive change in education. The vision is for more equitable access to learning opportunities globally and to cultivate a more compassionate world through education.

The Yidan Prize

What is the Yidan Prize?

The Yidan Prize is an international award that honors individuals or teams who have contributed significantly to education research and development as well as educational practices. It is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize for Education”.

The Yidan Prize recognizes outstanding work in two categories – education research and development as well as education projects. Each category carries a monetary award of HK$30 million (US$3.9 million), making it one of the largest international awards in education.

Award Categories

The two award categories are:

1. Yidan Prize for Education Research
This category recognizes individuals or teams whose education research has significantly pushed forward theory and practice, and made a substantial contribution to developing scalable and sustainable solutions.

2. Yidan Prize for Education Development
This category honors projects leading to positive impact through the development or improvement of systems, policies or programs. It focuses on work that has demonstrated potential for sustainable implementation on a large scale.

Both award categories aim to identify impactful concepts and solutions with strong potential to improve learning and promote social progress on a global scale.

Selection Process

The rigorous selection process for the Yidan Prize involves multiple stages:

  • Nomination: Individuals or organizations globally may submit nominations.
  • Preliminary Evaluation: An expert panel reviews nominations and selects shortlisted candidates.
  • Comprehensive Evaluation: Shortlisted candidates undergo in-depth evaluation based on selection criteria.
  • Final Decision: An International Awarding Committee comprising eminent individuals from education, science and civil society selects the laureates.

This thorough process helps identify groundbreaking work making genuinely impactful contributions to education worldwide.

Past Laureates

The first Yidan Prize laureates were awarded in 2017:

  • 2017 Yidan Prize for Education Research: Dr. John Hattie, University of Melbourne. For his seminal work synthesizing over 800 meta-analyses of the influences on student achievement.
  • 2017 Yidan Prize for Education Development: Dr. Hugo Sibeyn, Uwezo. For developing low-cost, citizen-led assessments to stimulate literacy and numeracy learning in East Africa.

Subsequent laureates have included leaders driving innovations in math learning, empowering marginalized youth, and advancing girls’ education globally. Their stories exemplify excellence and possibilities in educational change.

Yidan Council of Luminaries Network

In addition to the Yidan Prize, the Foundation has established the Yidan Council of Luminaries Network – a global community of educators with influence and expertise in learning and development.

Purpose of the Council

The Council convenes thought leaders to explore strategic ways of elevating education issues, nurturing innovation, and accelerating impactful solutions across diverse contexts worldwide. Its key objectives are to:

  • Foster collaboration and exchange between luminaries and other stakeholders.
  • Provide advice and insights to maximize the Foundation’s mission and strategy.
  • Champion causes related to advancing learning opportunities through evidence-based practice and policymaking.

Council Members

Council members are distinguished individuals with outstanding achievements and diverse perspectives in fields closely linked to education. They include renowned scholars, heads of international organizations, policy advisors, and social entrepreneurs.

Prominent figures like Kailash Satyarthi, Malala Yousafzai, and Koichiro Matsuura are part of this global body, leveraging their influence and experience to guide the Foundation. Together the Council is a powerful driver of change, inspiring new thinking and collective action around learning challenges globally.

Yidan Prize Foundation Scholarship Program

In line with its vision of cultivating positive education-driven change, the Foundation offers scholarships aimed at nurturing future education leaders and innovators. This section will explore the scholarship opportunities in detail.


The Yidan Prize Foundation Scholarship Program supports masters and doctoral students pursuing careers in fields related to education research, development, policy, and practice. Scholarships are merit-based and help excellent students devote their full attention to advanced studies that can propel education transformation worldwide.

Eligibility & Selection Criteria

To be eligible, applicants must:

  • Be admitted to or currently enrolled in a full-time master’s or PhD program at a recognized university.
  • Demonstrate excellent academic record and commitment to advancing education.
  • Have research interests aligned with the Foundation’s mission of promoting educational equity and quality learning.

Selection considers academic excellence, leadership qualities, research proposal, and potential for high impact. Preference is given to underrepresented groups and students from less developed regions.

Types of Scholarships

1. Yidan Master’s Scholarship

  • Provides full tuition fee coverage and living allowance for two years of master’s study.

2. Yidan PhD Scholarship

  • Covers tuition, living costs, and research expenses for 3-4 years of doctoral research training.

3. Yidan-Cambridge Scholarship

  • Supports PhD study at the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education.

Benefits & Obligations

Scholarship benefits include full financial support for degree programs, mentorship, and networking opportunities. Scholars commit to engaging in Foundation programs and events and ideally contribute to education after graduation.

Application Process

Applications are accepted annually through an online portal. The process evaluates academics, research proposals, and leadership attributes and fits with the Foundation’s mission. Shortlisted candidates undergo interviews before final selection by the Scholarship Awarding Committee.

Success Stories

Many scholars are making meaningful impacts with Foundation support. Some exemplary alumni include:

  • Dr. Saadia Zahidi (Singapore): Transformed math education for girls in rural Balochistan, Pakistan, through community engagement.
  • Ruth Kagia (Kenya): Researched literacy acquisition and now leads BookAid International, championing access to books.
  • Dr. Kevin Wong (Canada): Advocates for inclusive education policies through research on marginalized groups globally.

Their achievements demonstrate how Yidan scholars are driving progressive changes benefiting learners worldwide.

Impact & Significance

Since its inception, the Yidan Prize Foundation has recognized excellence, supported over 100 scholars, and continued to expand its activities worldwide. This section reflects on the Foundation’s growing impact.

Recognizing Groundbreaking Work

By awarding the Yidan Prize, the “Nobel Prize for Education”, the Foundation has elevated the status of education globally and drawn attention to field-defining work. Laureates exemplify what is possible through innovative, evidence-based solutions.

Nurturing Future Leaders

Through scholarships cultivating inspired minds, the Foundation is investing in individuals poised to resolve education challenges creatively. By equipping scholars with skills and opportunities it nurtures a promising new generation committed to transforming education landscapes.

Advancing Strategic Dialogue

Convening the Yidan Council of Luminaries, a body of leading thinkers and practitioners, amplifies voices elevating strategic discussions on key learning issues globally. Collective wisdom helps guide the Foundation’s work and propels the education agenda.

Demonstrating Impact Potential

Scholars undertake rigorous research addressing impactful questions with the potential to influence policy and practice significantly. Their work provides models supporting more equitable, quality education worldwide.

Growing Influence & Partnerships

As its network and activities expand globally, the Foundation is well-placed to facilitate collaboration across diverse contexts. Strong partnerships amplify efforts toward realizing an education-driven just world envisioned.

In just a few years, the Foundation has emerged as an esteemed champion and catalyst of change in education on the global stage. Its holistic approach recognizes excellence, nourishes innovation and accelerates impact at scale.


This section addresses some frequently asked questions about the Yidan Prize Foundation and its scholarship programs:

1. What are the eligibility requirements for Yidan scholarships?
Applicants must be enrolled or admitted to a full-time master’s or Ph.D. program at a recognized university, have excellent academic credentials, conduct research aligned with the Foundation’s mission, and preferably be from less developed regions or underrepresented groups.

2. What are the different types of scholarships offered?
The Foundation offers the Yidan Master’s Scholarship, the Yidan PhD Scholarship, and the Yidan-Cambridge Scholarship. The Master’s and PhD Scholarships provide full financial support for 2-4 years of graduate study. The Cambridge Scholarship supports PhD research at the University of Cambridge’s Faculty of Education.

3. What benefits do scholarship recipients receive?
Scholars receive full financial coverage for tuition and living expenses. Additional benefits include mentorship, networking opportunities, and chances to engage with the Foundation’s programs and events. Scholars also gain global exposure and connections that can help advance their education goals and careers.

4. What are the expectations from scholarship recipients?
Scholars are expected to fully commit to their degree programs and maintain excellent academic performance. They should be actively involved in the Foundation’s activities and contribute to the education sector after graduating, ideally through meaningful research, projects, or policy work.

5. What is the selection process for scholarships?
Applications are accepted annually via the Foundation’s website. The process involves evaluating academics, research proposals, leadership attributes, and fit with the Foundation’s mission. Shortlisted candidates undergo interviews. Final selection is made by the independent Scholarship Awarding Committee.

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