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A hand up rather than hand-out

Sophisticated philanthropists are upping their efforts to boost their impact on education in the region

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"The most important thing for us is to work with the government. The philanthropist cannot replace the resources and the credibility that the government has," says Mr Lakshminarayana.

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"We want innovation that can have a positive impact. We believe that innovation can come from research and from practice," says Mr Lee.

PHILANTHROPIC foundations in Asia are going beyond mere giving and are introducing innovative methods to improve education in the region. This is significant as a vast body of evidence shows that education is the best way to help the least privileged in society.

In south India, the Azim Premji Foundation introduced a combination of traditional Indian teaching and the Montessori educational approach to great acclaim.

Reflecting its success, the scheme has since been introduced to other schools in the state, revealed KR Lakshminarayana, the foundation's chief endowment officer. He was speaking on a panel on educational giving at the Credit Suisse Philanthropists Forum 2016.

In another initiative, the foundation experimented with a syllabus that moved from a single written exam to a system of "continuous and comprehensive evaluation over the entire year". This initiative, too, has been adopted by various states in India, said Mr Lakshminarayana.

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"The most important thing for us is to work with the government. The philanthropist cannot replace the resources and the credibility that the government has," he said.

Another foundation, meanwhile, hopes to spur others to develop innovations that can have a meaningful impact on education. The Yidan Prize Foundation was established by Charles Chen Yidan - a co-founder of Chinese Internet giant Tencent - and aims to create a better world through education.

The Yidan Prize consists of two awards: Yidan Prize for Education Research and Yidan Prize for Education Development.

"We want innovation that can have a positive impact. We believe that innovation can come from research and from practice," said Clive Lee, chief executive of the Yidan Prize Foundation, who was also on the panel.

A third panellist, Veronica Colondam, the founder of Indonesia's YCAB Foundation, is using an innovative micro-finance scheme as a means to encourage mothers to send their kids to school. (See story above.)

She said: "There should be a replacement of the income that the kids would have been making and contributing to the family. We need to use financial inclusion activity to enable education for the poor."

 

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