Payal Arora was commissioned by UNESCO in February of 2016 to create a report to advise the UN Education Commission. The area of expertise was on the impact of prizes on spurring innovation in the ICTs in education sector.
After the six months of research, and evaluation, the report has officially been released as part of the background papers that went into the formulating of the new United Nation’s Learning Generation policy for educational reform, particularly in developing countries using new technologies. This report was prepared specifically for the International Commission on Financing Global Education.
Here is the executive summary for the report. If interested, click here to get access to the final report.
The use of prizes to stimulate innovation in education has dramatically increased in recent years, but, to date, no organization has attempted to critically examine the impact these prizes have had on education. This report attempts to fill this gap by conducting a landscape review of education prizes with a focus on technology innovation. This report critically analyses the diversity of education prizes to gauge the extent to which these new funding mechanisms lead to innovative solutions in this sector. This is supplemented with interviews with sponsors and prize participants to gain the much needed practitioner’s perspective. We address important questions that pervade as prizes are being implemented in this sector: What seems to be working and why? How do prizes compare to other funding mechanisms to stimulate technology innovations? How is sustainability achieved? What can be learned that can inform the design of future prizes? A number of important assumptions are re-examined, namely, that technology innovation is central to educational reform, prizes stimulate innovation, scalability is a proxy for sustainability, and prizes are the most efficient funding mechanism to stimulate innovation. We recalibrate expectations of technology innovation prizes in the educational field against empirical evidence. We reveal key trends through the deploying of prizes in this field and offer case studies as good practices for sponsors to consider when designing future prizes. The report makes recommendations to enhance the impact of prizes, drawing from interdisciplinary sources. The intent of this report is to enable sponsors to distinguish the hype surrounding these prizes and proceed to design prizes that can best serve the education sector.