Mr. James Wolfensohn and Ms. Elaine Wolfensohn were awarded the Lifetime Dedication to Education and Learning Award by Theirworld and the Global Business Coalition for Education. The Wolfensohns were presented the award by youth leaders working on global education and members of staff. Prior to the presentation, the staff had an opportunity to speak with the Wolfensohns about their work at the World Bank and how they made learning opportunity for all a priority.
Mr. Wolfensohn became the President of the World Bank in 1995 – a tumultuous time marked by an economic crisis in Russia as a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Worldwide protests, under the banner of “Fifty Years is Enough,” were pushing for the abolishment of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Mr. Wolfensohn was instrumental in pushing forward the World Bank’s agenda to reduce poverty throughout the world, with a strong focus on human development and education.
During his tenure as President, Mr. Wolfensohn drew attention to the importance of involving young people and the need to expand the development dialogue to include civil society, indigenous peoples, faith-based groups, and other non-government stakeholders. He also oversaw the launch of the Fast Track Initiative to accelerate progress toward the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education.
Ms. Elaine Wolfensohn has played a critical role in putting education at the center of the international development agenda. She recalled her first World Bank trip to Mali where she noticed the need to focus on investing in quality education and shift discussions towards quality and learning. Ms. Wolfensohn has been a long-time champion of early childhood development, education, and gender equity.
In 2006, the Wolfensohns founded the “Wolfensohn Center for Development” at the Brookings Institution. Before concluding its operations in 2011, the center worked to “identify effective solutions to key development challenges in order to create a more prosperous and stable world.”
Theirworld and GBC-Education are honored to present the Wolfensohns with the Lifetime Dedication to Education and Learning Award, recognizing the important work they have carried out in delivering quality education to millions of marginalized children and youth throughout the world.