Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, founder and chairperson of BRAC, has been awarded the prestigious 2018 LEGO Prize in recognition of his extraordinary contribution towards improving children’s lives and their opportunities to play, learn and develop.
The LEGO Foundation, a Danish corporate foundation, has been awarding this prize since 1985 to individuals and organisations who are committed to the lives of children and are champions of learning through play.
The prize is accompanied by a cash award of USD 100,000, which will be used to strengthen BRAC’s support for children living with neuro-developmental disabilities and their families.
From the beginning of his career and the establishment of BRAC, Sir Fazle has viewed education as a crucial catalyst for change. He firmly believes that it is about more than just schools and books, and constant innovation is a cornerstone of BRAC’s approach. Since launching its non-formal education programme in Bangladesh in 1985, more than 11 million children have graduated from BRAC’s primary and pre-primary schools.
BRAC has set up more than 1,400 play-based early childhood development centres across Bangladesh, Tanzania and Uganda, where close to 40,000 children aged 1 to 5 years are presently enrolled. Of these, some 1,200 centres known as ‘Khelar Jogot’ (‘World of Play’ in English) are in Bangladesh. In these centres, pre-school children have access to age-appropriate play materials, a play-based curriculum, and play spaces that ensure their holistic development.
“It is an honour to receive the esteemed LEGO Prize. Every child deserves the opportunity to grow and develop. This generous financial contribution will support the holistic development of an underserved group of children in Bangladesh with special needs,” said Sir Fazle Hasan Abed.
“At BRAC, we pride ourselves on taking an innovative approach to early childhood development and education and share the LEGO Foundation’s passion for learning through play. Through our Play Lab programme, we have seen first-hand the power it can have in a child’s development,” he added.
Finnish educator and scholar Pasi Sahlberg, educationist and president of Reggio Children Carla Rinaldi, and founder of Right To Play International Johann Koss are among the earlier winners of the LEGO Prize.
In addition to its early childhood development centres, BRAC operates some 10,000 pre-primary schools, 3,200 non-formal primary schools, 8,700 primary schools, and a university. BRAC also provides technical support to 3,846 primary schools.