Expo 2020 Dubai: New $50,000 prize announced for early learning experts

The first cycle of the award will recognise the categories of best research and studies and best programmes, curricula, methodologies and teaching methods


Ashwani Kumar

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Published: Mon 10 Jan 2022, 4:45 PM

Last updated: Mon 10 Jan 2022, 4:47 PM

A new awarding field under the Khalifa International Award for Early Learning with a prize money worth $50,000 was announced at the Expo 2020 Dubai on Monday.

The new field falls under the umbrella of the Khalifa Award for Education, top dignitaries said during a press conference.

Two new categories: Best Research and Studies and Best Programmes, Curricula, Methodologies and Teaching Methods have been introduced with an aim to attract top international experts in early learning.

Upon the directives of Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Khalifa Award for Education, Eng. Hussain bin Ibrahim Al Hammadi, Minister of Education and Member of the Board of Trustees of the Khalifa Award of Education, inaugurated the Award’s International Field of Early Learning.

Al Hammadi said that the UAE is a pioneer in launching a global model that raises the status of children and provides them with an environment that enhances creativity and innovation in all areas of education, social upbringing, health and psychological care, to ensure the healthy growth of the child and refine one’s skills from the very early stages of life.

The minister said the purpose of launching this new field is to consolidate a culture of excellence and enrich the educational sector with specialised studies and policies that help achieve a qualitative leap for the education and childcare system, based on the highest international standards, in addition to stimulating human competencies to achieve the future development vision for the UAE.

He pointed out the new categories will open the door to global innovations, and will highlight the best-applied research and practices in the field of early childhood education.

Amal Al-Afifi, Secretary-General of the Khalifa Award for Education, said the first cycle of the award will recognise the categories of best research and studies and best programmes, curricula, methodologies and teaching methods. Candidates worldwide are invited to submit their applications, whether as individuals, groups or institutions. The winner/s will bag $50,000, a certificate of appreciation and a shield with the award logo.

Al Afifi added that the launch of this field is aimed at spreading a culture of excellence and creativity, discovering and appreciating programmes, methodologies and advanced teaching methods, encouraging distinguished teachers, activating the role of specialised educational centres, institutions and companies in early childhood, and honouring the best personal experiences and interests in the field of the people of determination in the field of early childhood.

Fatima Ahmad Al Bastaki, Cluster Manager and the Director of the project of teaching Chinese language in the Emirates Schools Establishment, said the new field will attract a group of experts specialised in early education, from all around the world, as members of the awarding committee, whose efforts will have a great impact in advancing the award process.

The committee includes professor Stephen Barnett, founding director of the National Institute for Early Education Research (NIEER) at Rutgers University, the US, and chairman of the awarding committee, prof Iram Siraj, professor of child development and education at Oxford University, the UK, professor Kimi Akita, dean of the Graduate School at the University of Tokyo, head of research in the Creative Schools Network supported by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, professor Jana Fleming, director of the Early Childhood Development Department at the University of Tokyo.


Barnett underlined that the Khalifa International Award for Early Learning Field draws the world’s attention to the great importance of education in the early years of an individual’s life, as it is the “cornerstone” for achieving the well-being of children and societies, by rewarding outstanding efforts in the field of early learning research, relevant field programs and practices.

Siraj pointed out: “There are very few international research awards dedicated to educational research, and there are almost no awards for research in the field of early learning, which makes this field an original and unique contribution to the advancement of the status and value of early childhood research in the world.”

Fleming noted: “The interest of the Khalifa International Award for Early Learning Field in supporting evidence-based research and practice to create early learning programs for children with special needs is timely and will grant a meaningful contribution to the field around the world.”

Akita added the new initiative offers a “great opportunity” for early childhood educators and specialist researchers around the world.

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