Ashoka Fellows in the News

Ashoka Fellows are the world's leading social entrepreneurs, committed to conquering the world's biggest problems with new ideas and creative solutions. All Fellows go through Ashoka's rigorous search and selection process, honed over 30 years of leadership in the field of social entrepreneurship. 

See below a selection of recent stories featuring Ashoka Fellows in the news. To comment or share, check out Ashoka Fellows on Scoop.it.

The math of learning | John Mighton | TEDxCERN

Source : youtube.com
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This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. An invisible problem in our society is that we underestimate ourselves. John Mighton, the founder of JUMP Math, believes that anyone can learn anything, especially mathematics. We need to give our teachers the right methods, backed by rigorous evidence, to educate our children. John Mighton is a mathematician and playwright and is the founder of JUMP Math, a charity that is working to improve the teaching math. He appeared in Good Will Hunting, and contributed a monologue to the film based on the argument he makes in his book The End of Ignorance that most people never get a chance to succeed in math because they are not taught according to their true potential.

The Ashoka Community Insights:
John Mighton, elected an Ashoka Fellow in 2004 in Canada, invented a method of teaching mathematics that inspires measurable higher performance across the board, along with major improvements in students’ self-esteem and attitude towards learning. His organization, Junior Undiscovered Mathematical Prodigies (JUMP) spreads this method among public schools that serve low-income students in Canada and the United States. In doing so it changes the mental models of teachers and educational authorities, lifting hopes and expectations for what kids can accomplish. He's been featured in "Who Cares?", an award-winning documentary about social entrepreneurship and changemaking and was a member of the panel for the Innovators' Forum at the opening of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor Center. John also has published a book, "End of Ignorance: Multiplying Our Human Potential" and has had many articles written about him and his work, including this featured in the Huffington Post.

Homeless World Cup chief Mel Young will be the new chairman of sportscotland

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Homeless World Cup founder and The Big Issue co-founder Mel Young has been appointed as the new chairman of sportscotland. 

Vice-chairman for the last three years and a member of the agency’s board for seven, Young will take over from Louise Martin on Wednesday, June 1.

 

The Scottish government’s minister for sport, health improvement and mental health, Jamie Hepburn, who announced the appointment, said Young had a background in using sport to drive social change and improve lives.

The Ashoka Community Insights:
Mel Young, elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2014 in the UK, has dedicated over two decades to tackling homelessness in Scotland, in the UK and around the world. As serial entrepreneur, his most recent achievement is catalysing the global use of football as a means to engage and empower homeless people to change their lives, and successfully bridge them into a sphere of inclusion. Mel Young pioneered the Homeless World Cup to transform the impact football could have on the lives of homeless people around the globe.

Wetlands not dams: Q&A with Hannarong Yaowalers

Source : virgin.com
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The word “wetland” is not common in Thai vocabulary. How have you tackled the challenge of helping the public become aware of something that does not have a name? In Thailand, citizens routinely clash with government officials over the construction of dams that destroy fisheries and habitats. And recently, protesters have rallied against the Xayaburi "mega dam" currently being constructed on the Mejong River in neighboring Laos. Hannarong is working to re-educate the public about the win-wins of protecting wetlands, which is no easy feat. Wetlands are typically considered waste areas, simply muddy regions without any use. Hannarong is changing that by documenting their economic value, namely their benefits to household incomes and local economies.  

The Ashoka Community Insights:
Hannarong Yaowalers, elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2012 in Thailand, is establishing a new public understanding of wetlands, formerly perceived as wastelands, by working with local communities to establish economic incentives for conservation. In an age of continuing dam construction in Asian countries, Hannarong is developing participatory wetland protection in Thailand as an alternative in water management.

Kerala's Young Changemakers

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Kailash Satyarthi, an Ashoka Fellow, is using his campaign of "100 Million to 100 Million" to partner with Student Police Cadet (SPC), a programme, created by empathetic Indian Police Service officer P. Vijayan , that is now one of the main flagship youth initiatives of the Kerala Government, a Southern Indian state. Kailash hopes to operationalize a large-scale transformation in the lives of 200 million children through petitions when petition when they see anything wrong happening to children in the rest of the world. Kailash will create this large-scale transformation by inspiring these children to practice the changemaking skill of cognitive empathy, so that they can identify with and understand the plight of their peers and contribute to change by speaking up for those whose voices need to be heard by the global community. The SPC scheme has shown tremendous results in reversing “fear, apathy and intolerance” by inspiring school children in Kerala to engage in active citizenship to bring change within their communities, inculcate Constitutional and democratic values inscribed in the Indian Constitution and become law abiding citizens with a clear understanding of and respect for the rule of law. Kailash's "100 Million to 100 Million" comes in to create stable and sustainable mechanisms for resource mobilisation in order to not rely solely on volunteerism. 

 

This is an apt illustration of how a changemaker network of team of teams, whether in the government or in the private sector, can effectively collaborate at very low per unit cost to bring about transformative framework change. 

The Ashoka Community Insights:
Kailash Satyarthi, elected an Ashoka Fellow in 1993 in India, is a renowned leader in the global movement against child labor. He is the architect and leader of two of the largest civil society movements: the Global March Against Child Labor (GMACL), a worldwide coalition of NGOs, Teachers' Union and Trade Unions, and the Global Campaign for Education. The GMACL campaign was instrumental in the International Labour Organisation (ILO) decision to change its outdated policy on child labour. These movements have rescued over 80,000 children from the scourge of bondage, trafficking and exploitative labour in the last three decades. For his tireless effort to liberate the world's children from child labor, Kailash was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 along with Malala Yousafzai "for their struggle against the suppression of young people and for the right of all children to an education".

Op-Ed: Time to Make Noise about SABC's Caller Ban | Daily Maverick

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The South Africa Broadcasting Commission has cancelled open line calls on most of its radio programmes, they say in preparation for local elections. Even for the public broadcaster, the move is drastic. It undermines SABC presenters, will weaken the diversity of content and once again questions the SABC’s impartiality. It's time to make your voice heard. 

 

Written by Ashoka Fellow, William Bird

The Ashoka Community Insights:
William Bird, elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2008 in South Africa, works closely with the media industry, specifically transforming the way children and children’s issues are portrayed in the media through media monitoring efforts involving both journalists and children. All of this he does through his organization, Empowering Children and the Media (ECM). In the South African media, children are often depicted by sensationalist journalists in ways that compromise their privacy and dignity and violate their human rights. Young victims of crimes may be named and children unwitting involved in their parents’ divorce cases are often identified. He trains journalists on ‘child friendly’ journalism and enables children to become ‘media watchdogs’ to monitor press coverage of children. William is comprehensively ensuring a rights-respecting and balanced reportage of children in the media. William has led over 80 media monitoring projects in South Africa and internationally and ECM has worked the likes of UNICEF, national broadcast corporations, and public universities.

"Hero Rats" Have Learned How to Sniff Out Land Mines

Source : citylab.com
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All they’re asking for in return are some treats and a bit of love.
The Ashoka Community Insights:
Ashoka Fellow Bart Weejens trains African giant pouched rats—or “hero” rats—to detect landmines and TB.

From fisherman to climate farmer: Ashoka Fellow Bren Smith -

Source : youtube.com
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Bren Smith is building a blue-green economy that will restore oceans, mitigate climate change and re-invent the fishing profession. For the past 12 years, Br...

A resilient entrepreneur - Gbenga Olabisi Sesan

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Once derided as someone who could not understand the complexity of a modern day computer, the proverbial rejected stone has turned around to become the corn. 

 

“I saw a computer for the first time during my third year in secondary school and the inability to satisfy my curiosity about the “machine” Corpowas a very big challenge to me. Instead of getting discouraged, however, I made up my mind that I was not only going to touch a computer but I would teach others how to use it to prevent the kind of embarrassment I faced each time I tried getting closer to the “magic beast,” Gbenga said in a recent interview. 

 

Today, Gbenga’s work is built around the use of ICTs in socio-economic transformation such as job creation- focusing on underserved groups, through his organisation known as Paradigm Initiative Nigeria. Paradigm Initiative Nigeria (PIN) is a social enterprise that connects under-served Nigerian youth with ICT opportunities; with specific concern about the ill effects of unemployment and cybercrime, among other vices that limit the potential contribution of young Nigerians to the nation’s economy. PIN’s projects are built on years of combined experience and focus on socio-economic development.

The Ashoka Community Insights:
‘Gbenga Sesan, elected an Ashoka Fellow in 2008 in Nigeria, is using information and communication technology to empower young people from underserved communities through entrepreneurial training programs that create new economic opportunities for them. Gbenga is using information and communication technology (ICT) to increase the employability of young people that want to remain in the labor market and improve the probability of success for those who chose to become entrepreneurs. He is doing this by providing training in ICT skills and entrepreneurship, mentoring, and internship opportunities with established organizations—all while relying on idle or under-utilized resources within the community. 'Gbenga is a member of the United Nations Committee on ICT/Youth as well. He has also been named top 40 under 40 by Business Day for his work connecting Nigerian youth to Information and Communication Technology (ICT) opportunities as well as being a Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014. 'Gbenga has been recognized many other times and had several more articles written about him.

Dame Esther Rantzen: 'let's leave behind loneliness in 2016'

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Despite a renewed focus on conquering loneliness amongst the older generation, there is still a stigma attached to admitting being lonely. A new study shows that over half of the over 60s believe this to be the case.

 

Dame Esther Rantzen is trying to change that with her free, 24 hour confidential helpline for older people, Silver Line Helpline. 

She said:  “I know from personal experience that there is still a stigma to admitting you’re lonely, but I believe we should be honest about our loneliness, so that others can help. We have a huge loneliness epidemic in this country, and it isn’t enough just to talk about it, we have to find ways of solving it.

“Let’s all work together to leave loneliness behind in 2016. There is no shame in loneliness, and there are many things that can be done to break down the barriers it creates. When you know how much damage loneliness can do to physical and mental health, you realise how crucial it is that we all we try to solve this problem.”

The Ashoka Community Insights:
Dame Esther Rantzen, elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2015 in the UK, is best known for her international NGO, ChildLine, which she created alongwith Jeroo Billimoria, also an Ashoka Fellow elected in 1998. Despite the phenomenal success of Childline, Esther didn’t dwell on its success. In 2000 Esther lost her husband Desmond and one year later wrote an article about the loneliness she experienced following his death. She received a massive amount of replies from older people experiencing isolation and distress. A few months later, she came up with the idea of setting up The Silver Line to break the stigma of loneliness and to help older people to regain self-esteem and a role in society. Esther was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to children and older people through ChildLine and The Silver Line.

Why a Peace Treaty Means Little in Libya

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Written by Alaa Murabit, Ashoka Fellow

 

"A peace treaty will not put out the fire and clear the smoke; it is not a "light at the end of the tunnel" as some political analysts and "Libya experts" claim. While it may create a small window of opportunity, much like the Libyan uprising did in 2011, it will mean nothing more than the paper it is written on unless we listen to those on the ground, to the voices of those most affected and those who can actually enact these commitments. Libya urgently needs peace. But it will not be brokered solely by those whose greed and ignorance brought us to this point in the first place."

The Ashoka Community Insights:
Alaa Murabit, elected an Ashoka Fellow in 2014 in Libya, is shifting the paradigm around the role of women in Libyan society. She uses religious discourse, which historically perpetuated the problem, to positively reinforce social, economic, and political rights for women. Brought up in Canada before moving to Libya with her family when she was 15, Alaa was raised with the same respect and responsibilities as her brothers, so she was shocked ot discover how women were treated in Libya. Since then, she has been constantly pushing for women to have a greater role in Libyan society, leading her to even be placed on Muammar Gaddafi’s list of 11 most-wanted women in Zawiya. In 2013, Alaa received the Trust Women Hero Award, awarded by The New York Times, and the Marisa Bellisario International Award for "activities in favor of human rights," awarded by Foreign Minister and selected by the High Patronage of the President of the Italian Republic. She was additionally chosen as one of 25 Under 25 Young Women to Watch by Women in The World and Newsweek. In July of 2014 Alaa was selected as an Advisory Board Member by the United Nations Security Council for Resolution 1325: Women, Peace and Security due to her unparalleled work and experience in Libya on securing women's rights and roles in conflict management, conflict resolution and peace building.

BBC News - Shai Reshef - Feb 2016

Source : youtube.com
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Shai Reshef was featured in a segment of BBC News Business Live during February 2016. In the video, Shai discusses his non-profit, University of the People, which is the first available online education platform with no tuition. While students must pay $100 USD for each exam as a processing fee, there are scholarships widely available within the organization that would cover these costs. Shai's goal is to provide higher education to anyone who wishes to have a degree, believing that is a human right to be educated at the collegiate level. 

The Ashoka Community Insights:
Shai Reshef, elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 2010 in Israel, founded University of the People, an educational institution specifically created to serve poor, remote and disadvantaged populations. UoPeople is the world's first tuition-free global online academic institution dedicated to the democratization of higher education. Shai Reshef was also a Skoll Center for Social Entrepreneurship Fellow in 2011 and has been an important part of the Ashoka network since his election. In 2010, he visited Haiti to welcome first-hand the first Haitian students enrolled at UoPeople to support those seeking higher education in a country devasted by an earthquake, later being named the Education Ultimate Game Changer by Huffington Post. In 2012, Shai was nominated to Wired U.K.’s first-ever Smart List by Yossi Vardi, a high-tech entrepreneurs and an original investor in the instant messaging service ICQ. Along with these accomplishments, Shai has also fostered a partnership with NYU through UoPeople, allowing students who show exceptional promise after at least a year of studies with the University of the People to apply to N.Y.U.’s Abu Dhabi campus and be eligible for financial aid.

Unlocking Workplace Daycare for the Children of Garment Workers in Bangladesh

Source : virgin.com
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The majority of the garment industry’s workers are women – up to 80 per cent by some estimates. Yet, in booming factory towns like Dhaka, Bangladesh, there are few, if any, childcare options. Ashoka Fellow Suraiya Haque founded Phulki in 1991 to create childcare options for working mothers, and today the organisation operates nearly 90 community-based, and 25 factory-based daycares in Dhaka. Caretakers at the daycares are trained in early childhood development, nutrition, and hygiene. And each month, Phulki meets with mothers – and occasionally fathers – for nutrition education, and offers trainings on labour, sexual, and reproductive rights. 

 

Recently, a woman thanked Suraiya for the program. “That’s why I can now work and earn my living,” she said. “I’m independent.”

The Ashoka Community Insights:
Suraiya Haque, elected as an Ashoka Fellow in 1991 in Bangladesh, is providing much needed childcare for women factory workers in Bangladesh, and she is the first one to do so in the country. Using a cost-sharing model, Suraiya engages both the women and the factory employers, proving that by providing childcare for working women, they are actually more productive, generating more income for themselves and for the factory. Suraiya Haque is also a Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship Fellow.

Thunder Valley CDC Aims To Forge New Tribal Community: Ashoka Fellow Nick Tilsen

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An effort to build a new sustainable and energy self-sufficient community on Pine Ridge is underway. The Thunder Valley CDC held a groundbreaking near
The Ashoka Community Insights:
Tilsen is the Executive Director of the Thunder Valley CDC. He spoke just before the entire crowd of community members lined up in front of a set of shovels to each take a turn at the official ground breaking. Tilsen says this project is different than housing efforts in the past, in part because it’s bottom up.

A bolly good read

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MILLIONS of Indians watch Bollywood movies for the broken hearts, lost fortunes, dishy actors and catchy tunes. But beyond mere escapism, such fare may have a role to play in fighting illiteracy.

The Ashoka Community Insights:
Ashoka Fellow Brij Kothari of PlanetRead uses pop culture to create an Everyone a Reader India.
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