Ever since Bill Drayton's founding of Ashoka, the organization has had a keen focus on the potential of young people to drive change. A crucial part of that according to Syeda Sarwat Abed (Founder and Director, BRAC Institute of Languages) involves enabling the youth to build critical empathy and changemaker skills from a very young age. To this end, Ashoka Innovators for the Public worked together with BRAC University and Toru Pvt Ltd. to launch Bangladesh's first ever "Empathy Lab".
The project aims to create an entrepreneurial mindset amongst children and the young population of Bangladesh. Its vision involves preparing youngsters so that they can respond quickly and effectively to social challenges such that everyone gets the freedom, confidence and social support to drive positive change. The need to involve various stakeholders (such as BRAC University) in these development efforts was recognized to allow for a multiplier effect, according to Yashveer Singh (Director, Youth Venture and Ashoka Innovators, South Asia).
The lab will hopefully initiate an ecosystem building process that values and supports students to be changemakers by enabling them to build critical empathy skills amongst school students while also developing a framework where BRACU students will learn and practice the skills of sophisticated teamwork, creative problem solving and collaborative leadership to solve complex social problems.