Published: 2022-01-24 18:24
Last Updated: 2022-05-23 17:11
Jordanian Professor Rana Dajani, has received a Schwab Foundation Social Innovation Award for the year of 2022 as part of the World Economic Forum Davos Agenda.
The awards recognize 15 mission-driven leaders tackling world’s toughest problems, from social inequality and youth unemployment, to malnutrition and accessible healthcare.
Professor Dajani was chosen to be the only winner from the Arab countries and was chosen from a group of 400 influential community leaders in 190 countries around the world who have impacted the lives of 722 million people around the world.
This year's Schwab Foundation Awardees demonstrate that through values-based approaches centering on inclusivity, collaboration, relationships of trust and long-term sustainability, we have proven ways of changing institutions and mindsets, and disrupting traditional ways of working that hold systemic barriers in place” said François Bonnici, director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship.
Professor Dajani said: “This award and acknowledgement is for every person who has been part of the journey of We Love Reading in every way consciously or unconsciously. Everyone is important, “Do not belittle any good deed” as Prophet Mohammad said. Therefore my fellows in this journey go forward, keep reading, learning and walking, follow your curiosity, your dreams, your aspirations, believe in yourself, trust yourself and you will make the impossible happen.”
As a scientist, Professor Dajani knows the importance of observation and research in coming up with solutions to problems. She observed that many children in the Middle East region do not read for pleasure. Through research, she found that reading aloud to children is one very effective solution to tackle this problem. This is when she founded We Love Reading (WLR). Today WLR is active in 63 countries worldwide and has brought the joy of reading to nearly half a million children, including tens of thousands of young refugees in Jordan and beyond. WLR is creating systems change by changing mindsets through reading to create changemakers.
The program constitutes training local volunteer women, men and youth to hold read-aloud sessions in public spaces in their neighborhoods where books are routinely read aloud to children. WLR chooses books that are age-appropriate, attractive, neutral in content, in the native language of the child. In addition to promoting the experience of reading, WLR empowers women, men and youth readers to become leaders in their communities, builds ownership in the children and community members and serves as a platform for raising awareness on issues such as health and environment through reading books on themes.
The program impacts emotional regulation, executive function, literacy skills and psychosocial status. The model can be replicated anywhere using an existing common public space. An innovative model of support for those using the program was developed to create a supportive network for the volunteers and their work. The program has been called a social movement and has spread to 63 countries.
The program is evidence-based in collaboration with international universities such as Brown University and Yale. The program is led by local scientists, practitioners, and business experts who strive to reach every child by empowering and engaging the workforce; creating partnerships with key stakeholders; and adapting and optimizing the model, utilizing technology and continuous improvement methodology.
The international advisory board of We Love Reading includes Her Royal Highness Princess Sumaya bint Alhassan, the former U.S. secretary of education Arne Duncan, and His Excellency Hamdi Tabbaa.
We Love Reading has been honored in Jordan and internationally. From His Majesty King Abdullah II the King Hussein Medal of Honor 2014; Synergos award 2009; Ahel Himmeh 2009; Library of congress best practices 2013; WISE Award 2014; Star Award 2015; IDEO.org best refugee education program 2015; UNESCO International Literacy Prize 2017; UNHCR innovative education for refugees 2017; World Literacy Council Award 2018; and the Jacobs social entrepreneurship award 2018; Ashoka Award 2019; Nansen refugee Award 2020; selected for HundrED’s 2022 Global Collection.
The Schwab Foundation’s unique community of social innovators dates back more than two decades to 1998 when Hilde Schwab, together with her husband Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum, created the foundation to support a new model for social change, combining often-overlooked values of mission, compassion and dedication with the best business principles on the planet to serve the most disadvantaged people on earth and build a better society.