Genesis of Elham
A Universal Prize for Education [UPE]
In its early beginnings, the Universal Education Foundation (UEF) intended to introduce a prestigious Noble-like-prize for Education. This intention was shared with a number of senior officials associated with UNESCO with whom intensive consultations on the nature, structure and purpose of the prize was discussed.read more
The initiative stemmed from the Foundations belief that education is a vital human endeavor and deserves to be accorded adequate attention. During its preparatory work towards the design of its education prize, the Foundation benchmarked around a hundred international prizes in various areas of human endeavor. The purpose of this study was simply to build on their rich experience in various domains such as the nomination and selection process, the selection criteria, prize governance,...etc., and to identify to the extent possible the scope and depth of the developmental impact of the prizes on their respective target areas. The concern for a developmental aspect of the prize stems out of the Foundations approach of using the prize as a venue for advocating and inspiring change through exemplary models, rather than having the prize focus on simply rewarding recent or past extraordinary contributions in the field of interest.
Besides extensive desk research, the prize design team held interviews with directors of some of the major prize awarding foundations in Europe and the Arab Region.
From a Universal Prize to Elham
As the thinking about the prize, its efficacy and effectiveness moved forward, it became increasingly clear that a prize scheme wont serve the inspirational intent of UEF whose main purpose is to inspire the transformation of learning environments to become more conducive to children’s well being.
A qualitative shift in UEF’s approach occurred in the context of a three day planning meeting attended by UEF board members and top level representatives of partner organizations. In particular, the meeting, which was held as St. George Retreat near Paris, was attended by the Education Development Center, the International Partnership Network, Academy for Educational Development, World Education, UNESCO, The European Institute of Education, Media in Education Trust, and the Madaryaga European Foundation. The purpose of the retreat was to consolidate the partners understanding and consensus on the nature and key design elements of UEF’s perspective program. This extremely insightful process culminated in a creative transformation of the prize concept or approach to a much more transformational/inspirational approach. This was the context in which the concept of Elham was conceived.