The Harvard South Asia Institute (SAI) Workshop on the Liberal Arts in Higher Education is a forum for faculty, administrators, and leadership from universities across South Asia, the Middle East, and neighboring regions (Central Asia and East Asia) to explore ways in which universities may develop a liberal arts education program for undergraduate students, while fostering such objectives as sustainable development; social inclusion and peace; and cooperation across national boundaries among individuals, institutions, and governments. These goals are essential to addressing shared global challenges and to realizing opportunities to advance human well-being. Universities, as institutions that prepare future leadership of societies, have a unique role to play in the achievement of these goals, educating students as global citizens who can understand, value, and contribute to the common good.
The inaugural event of the Harvard SAI Liberal Arts Education Workshop will be held on August 19-20, 2017, at the Ismaili Centre in Dubai, with the aim of launching a consortium of stakeholders committed to a robust and vibrant future of liberal arts education. This workshop will allow Harvard SAI to initiate a multi-year engagement convening on an annual basis for collaboration, knowledge sharing and the exchange of ideas.
This workshop is available for university faculty, administrators, and leadership only. Please include your title, affiliation, and university email when you register.
John Wood,founder and board co-chair of Room to Read
Chair: Fernando Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of International Education and Director of Global Education and of International Education Policy at Harvard University
Over 60 million primary school-aged children around the world do not have access to education and most likely will never learn to read or write. Room to Read believes that all children, regardless of gender or background, have a right to education. By empowering children through this lifelong gift, we see a world in which people are able to realize their full potential.
On May 8, the South Asia Institute at Harvard University (SAI) and the Central Square Foundation (CSF) convened a group of high-level stakeholders for a roundtable discussion to shape and commit on the agenda for forging linkages between education reformers in the US and in India focused on improving learning outcomes for children. The program was part of a multi-year effort to strengthen the linkages between education reformers in both the US, India and other countries working to improve educational outcomes at a systemic level. Entrepreneurs who are working at the community level, private philanthropists funding innovation and research and the academics performing this research met to establish a framework for learning and building innovative structures. A central tension in our discussions was: how to achieve excellent learning outcomes at a level of scale that impacts millions of children; how do we balance “excellence” with the pressing need “to scale”?
An Overview of India’s Educational Landscape
Overview – Karthik Murlidharan, Assistant Professor of Economics at University of California, San Diego
India’s educational system is failing its children, and the implications for economic development are significant. In the past ten years Government of India spending on education has grown and the results are discouraging; while enrollment levels have improved, students’ learning outcomes are dismal. What are the structural changes that might improve learning in both the public sponsored schools and the private sector ones? How do we frame and sequence the social investment to accomplish this?
What Do We Know and What Do We Need to Know?
Moderator –Fernando Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of International Education and Director of Global Education and of International Education Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education
Panel: Abhijit Banerjee, MIT, Abdul Latif Jamal Poverty Action Lab; Ashish Dhawan, CEO and Founder, Central Square Foundation and Felipe Barrera-Osorio, Assistant Professor of Education and Economics, Harvard Graduate School of Education
What evidence do we have, and what evidence do we need to generate to inform the design and content of this social investment strategy. Educators in India have worked on many levels and across many frontiers to promote improved learning outcomes. Non – profit service providers and philanthropic groups have developed a myriad of interventions; what works and what doesn’t? Looking ahead, where do we need to place our investments to generate the insights and findings that will influence policy makers? Are there important lessons from outside of India that can be applied?
What Are the Critical Questions We Can Discern from the US Education Reform Movement?
Moderator –Tarun Khanna, Director, South Asia Institute, Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor, Harvard Business School
Panel: Tom Haslett, Central Square Foundation; Stig Leschly, CEO, Match Education; Jacqueline Bhabha, Executive Director Harvard University Committee on Human Rights Studies
The education reform movements outside of India have taken different directions and each offers some insight to efforts in India. The US offers many such important lessons for the emerging education reform movement in India. As we consider the past 20 years here in the US, can we apply “lessons learned” to the Indian context? What are the critical questions that we should pursue?:
What is more important “excellence” or “scale” in program? What is the best application of philanthropic capital: research, pilot stage intervention or scaling programs with promise? How do you support advocacy efforts? If you could restart education reform in the US with 20 years of perspective, what would you do differently?
Innovation in Education: Lessons for Entrepreneurship in Pakistan
Fernando Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of International Education; Director of Global Education and of International Education Policy
Imran Sarwar, Co-Founder, Rabtt; MPP Class of 2013, Harvard Kennedy School of Government
The third Video Conference of the new SAI Series of Webinars focused on ‘Innovation in Education: Lessons for Entrepreneurship in Pakistan’. Professor Fernando Reimers, Ford Foundation Professor of International Education and Director of Global Education and of International Education Policy at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and Imran Sarwar, Co-Founder, Rabtt (Connection); MPP Class of 2013, Harvard Kennedy School of Government led the discussion with academic sites across Pakistan. In addition, for the first time a Facebook event for the Webinar attracted 120 people to virtually attend the event – our partner, Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission provided a live web link for online streaming so that the discussion was available to anyone with an internet connection.
Professor Reimers started his presentation on ‘Educating to Change the World’ with acknowledging how much education has changed over the last 25 years – the very fact of the Video Conference itself through which sites were virtually connected is a demonstration of how much technology has enhanced access around the world. He said we are in a new era in history when instead of top-down planning individuals and small groups of people are taking on big challenges – it’s a time of great potential change. He spoke of the fact that we need to move from teaching low-level cognitive skills that had been the focus of much formal education in the past to higher level leadership skills for the 21st century by developing adaptable skills to apply knowledge and learning in new ways. He spoke of the great work of Injaz al-Arab under the visionary leadership of Soraya Salti that he has been helping evaluate over the last 2 years and the phenomenal outcomes of the program in developing a sense of agency in youth and the ability to see challenges as opportunities. He also spoke of the ability inherent in all of us to teach and that we can’t expect professional teachers to bear all the burdens of teaching – he exhorted the audience to action. In reply to a twitter question about encouraging business and academia linkages, he spoke of an example from Monterey, Mexico about an innovative approach taken by a University president who asked local government and business leaders how his institution could help them grow – he then led the change to respond to those social demands – exactly the kind of model higher education needs to move towards to be a center for development and innovation in the 21st century.
Imran Sarwar spoke of his experiences along with a friend and colleague from LUMS, Aneeq Ahmed Cheema when they formed Rabtt in the summer of 2011. Listening to his personal story of how he managed family and social expectations in going down his chosen and unconventional path to make a start at changing the reality of children who attend public sector schools was heartening. He exhorted would-be entrepreneurs to not wait to start till conditions were perfect or support was forthcoming – he said, start now and you’ll attract people who think like you to join your work – and that money and finances will also flow to the work you start! He spoke of how privileged children from elite schools live in their bubbles while children in public sector schools are very street smart. Rabtt is working on connecting these two worlds. Professor Reimers reiterated that a progressive society must be more equitable and heartily endorsed Imran’s efforts –at the end he asked us all to free ourselves from toxic mentalities and begin to take responsibility to change social conditions – now!
Mariam Chughtai (doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education) ably moderated the Videoconference and handled switching between different sites enabled by HEC’s Virtual Education Project and Erum Sattar (doctoral candidate at Harvard Law School) moderated an active twitter feed on: #SAIEdInnovation
Innovation in Education
Photos from the video conference discussion on lessons for entrepreneurship in Pakistan.
Co-sponsored with the Harvard Pakistan Student Group