Judges named two intiatives, Educational Justice Activists and Prepped, as winners at an educational entrepreneurship conference on Friday for students enrolled in the Harvard Graduate School of Education course A132: "Educational Innovation and Social Entrepreneurship in Comparative Perspective."
The course, which is taught by GSE professor Fernando M. Reimers, meets at the Harvard Innovation Lab and seeks to promote sustainable educational innovations. Students work on education innovation projects throughout the semester and present the projects to an audience and group of judges at the end of the semester. This year, the award for the best overall project was a pen, wallet, and tote bag.
“Students create a business plan to create an organization to help solve educational challenges,” said Reimers.
Prepped seeks to provide Korean high schools with high quality and engaging education to prepare students for college. The project, currently being piloted in Seoul, gives students critical thinking skills and teaches them English to improve their chances of getting into college. Educational Justice Activists seeks to reduce the income achievement gap by extending the availability of educational resources to poorer children.
“For most of my career, I’ve been doing work on education and getting kids get out of poverty,” said Reimers. “Teaching a course about entrepreneurship is not as interesting or effective as teaching students how to be entrepreneurs.”
In response to the selection of his project as best overall, GSE student Robert M. Lewis, one of the four group members from Prepped, said that “most important to us was the overwhelming support we received from the audience, which will provide our team with extra energy as we forge ahead.”
Prepped team members plan to expand the project to Kenya, the U.S., China, and Mexico, based on the success of the pilot, according to Lewis.
In addition to the 14 judges invited from around the world, audience members were encouraged to provide feedback during the event via clickers. At the conclusion of the presentation, audience members were given Monopoly money and encouraged to ‘invest’ in projects. The projects Agenda 28 and TeachTalk were voted most innovative idea, and Make Me a Freshman and Scholastic Family Bridges were voted best presentation.
Rahim A. Mawji ’15, a student in the course, said that the class consists of three components: “learning from the best actors, collaborating with people who are clearly passionate about education, and lastly actually working on the project,” adding that “the idea is that they put a lot of passionate people together and watch the magic happen.”
Course alumna Peggy W. Mativo ’14 said that “A132 was an amazing experience and so helpful for our work in education in Kenya.”
Her project, called PACE, is a Kenyan program that helps public schools that lack sufficient teachers and gets “young people to volunteer to become teaching assistants so they can go to schools and give back.”
—Staff writer Ignacio Sabate can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . Follow him on Twitter @TheIggySabate.