Winners of the Rybakov Prize – the largest award for philanthropists in education – announced

The names of three winners of the Rybakov Prize, the international prize for entrepreneurs, philanthropists and impact investors in education were announced at a gala evening in Moscow on 02.02.2020. UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education and the World Bank were partners of the Prize.

The International Rybakov Prize was founded in 2019 by Igor and Ekaterina Rybakov, the founders of the Rybakov Foundation. Their mission is to enable the society to shape the future development through activism and creative entrepreneurship. Igor and Ekaterina Rybakov are committed to showcasing role models for entrepreneurs, philanthropists and benefactors who are engaged in school transformation and modernization initiatives, re-inventing school as not solely a source of knowledge, but also a center of attraction and advancement for the local community.

Igor Rybakov, co-founder of the Rybakov Foundation and the Rybakov Prize commented on the meaning and purpose of the award:

We want parents, teachers, schoolchildren, graduates to form a single environment. I imagine a school where children and teenagers see their future after the graduation. So, when the graduates come back, it makes it clear to the students why they go to school. It builds the school principal’s confidence that his purpose will be fulfilled. It gives meaning and recognition to teachers and reduces the anxiety of parents. Then the school will acquire a new, the most essential capacity. It becomes a center for the community, a catalyst for vital changes in society. We want this to come true and to become a tradition. With that in mind, Ekaterina and I established the international Rybakov Prize.

In total, 460 applications from more than 40 countries submitted applications for the Rybakov Prize. The Selection Committee where UNESCO IITE was represented by Tigran Yepoyan, Chief of Unit of ICT in Health Education and Regional Health Education Advisor, has shortlisted 16 nominees from seven countries. The international Jury composed of renowned philanthropists, businessmen and social activists from all over the world identified the winners.

The Rybakov Grand Prix of $1 million was awarded to Abdul Abdulkerimov, Russia, the creator of Luminary, an innovative educational center in a mountain village of Khrug in Dagestan. The center offers free attendance, interdisciplinary approach and modular education by practitioners from all over the country. At the award ceremony, Abdulkerimov publicly pledged to open 50 Luminary centers in 5 years, in collaboration with the community of entrepreneurs.

“Winning the Rybakov Prize is not an issue of money. It is a matter of being a part of the development that will create the Russia of tomorrow, a happy and prosperous country. A country where education, human capital, and human rights are given the top priority,” said Abdul Abdulkerimov upon receiving the award.

Two other awards each consisting of $100,000 received Olga Zubkova from Russia and Boris Bulaev from USA.

Olga Zubkova is the inspiring leader and president of Tetradka Druzhby Educational Development Association. Its educational programs for creating an inclusive school environment are practiced in 24 countries worldwide.

Boris Bulaev is co-founder of Educate!, a non-profit organization that helps almost 50,000 students in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda get leadership and entrepreneurship skills for work and life. At the ceremony, Mr. Bulayev said that he intends to have one third of all Ugandan secondary schools collaborating with Educate! by the end of 2020 and to promote education reform in Rwanda.

Closing the ceremony, Ekaterina Rybakova, president of the Rybakov Foundation and co-founder of the Rybakov Prize added: “Just five years ago, I was much more anxious about the future than I am now. Everything changed when I have got a vision, a dream. I want to have as many places as possible where children would be able to grow up without fear and aggression and learn without coercion. I want to make things we teach them to be consistent with what they want to know. I want schools to be for children, not children for schools. With this dream in mind, I ceased to be just a consumer and became a partner in the educational environment. And all participants of the Rybakov Prize are partners and creators of the educational environment as well. We want to encourage people to be involved and responsible for the world in which we will live. For our common future. And our future, right now, is at the school desk.”

The members of Jury say:

Safeena Husain, Founder and CEO of Educate Girls, Chairwoman of the jury of the Rybakov Prize:

I am impressed and inspired by the fact that each of the shortlisted nominees has the potential to improve the global educational environment. As we aspire to achieve the fourth goal of sustainable development proclaimed by the UN General Assembly, “Quality Education for All”, and shape the future for new generations, we need multiple initiatives like these to give impetus to innovative social projects.

Osama Obeidat, CEO of Queen Rania Teacher Academy, jury member of the Rybakov Prize:

I hope the Rybakov Prize to be officially established as the “Nobel Prize for Education Philanthropists” and become one of the most prestigious in the world.

See more information on Rybakov Prize and the Rybakov Foundation’s activities at the award and the foundation’s website.