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Live from Skoll World Forum 2015

With so much going on at the 2015 Skoll World Forum, it's impossible to participate in everything. Our bloggers are sitting in on many of the exciting sessions at this year's event. Read their concise notes and observations to catch up on important discussions you may have missed.


FORUM2015: “I Had the Answer, But He Didn’t Have the Question.”

FORUM2015: “I Had the Answer, But He Didn’t Have the Question.”

April 28, 2015 | 3576 views

THU, APRIL 16, 2015; 11:45 – 13:00

A lunchtime session on Pratham’s work teaching children in India surfaced great lessons on the importance – and limitations – of storytelling. Pratham’s new CEO, Rukmini Banerji, captured the audience’s imagination with a powerful story, at the same time as she highlighted that action is inspired by a different sort of experience entirely.

Banerji described an episode from her years administering the Annual Status of Education (ASER) assessment used by Pratham to gauge baseline and progress against education goals. As a courtesy, she asked a village headman for permission to give the survey in his area. He agreed, and when she returned to tell him the ASER was completed, he could not believe the outcome. He marched down the road asking children questions from the very basic questionnaire until he was convinced that Banerji’s results, showing that only one-third of students had passed, were correct.

Episodes like these have led Banerji to realize that you can engage someone with a story, but without firsthand experience with the problem, they will not develop belief that causes change. Summarizing her encounter with the village head, she said, “He was not curious to begin with. I had the answer, but he didn’t have the question.”

Pratham and PAL Network, Pratham’s new sister organization in East Africa, still struggle with how to recreate this experience for a broad audience – to “make people feel this as a problem [so] action will start.”  But the realization that this is what’s needed was a critical first step.


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