Representing the Student Voice at the Pearson Summit

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During the first week of February, I had the honor of attending the Pearson Summit in Miami with the Pearson Student Advisory Board. Pearson Executives from across the company were in attendance at the event, including the Chief Executive Officer, John Fallon. As a board, we were tasked with the responsibility of representing the student voice by offering our insights on Pearson’s efficacy framework, culture, and values. As student advisors, I was uncertain of whether our presence would have an impact. However, by the end of The Summit, it became clear to me that Pearson took the input of learners seriously and was committed to making sure that the student voice was incorporated within the company.NisarBarber_Intext_Pic

The most interesting aspect of the whole Summit was the discussion on efficacy. I started with the Pearson Student Advisory Board in July 2014, but I am still learning about the different components of Pearson as a company. During our first Board meeting in July, the efficacy framework was introduced, but I did not completely grasp it. However, The Summit helped me understand why Pearson is so focused on efficacy. Someone brought up an excellent question during one of the plenary sessions, which was, “What is the difference between efficacy and efficiency?” Amar Kumar, SVP of Efficacy and Research, explained it the best, “Efficiency is doing things right and efficacy is doing the right things.” Pearson understands that the learner is at the center of their company. If they truly want to help improve people’s lives through learning, then they need to put the same emphasis on measuring learning outcomes as they do on product sales and corporate profits.

At The Summit, it was amazing to walk through the efficacy gallery room and see the progress Pearson has made so far in implementing the initiative across the Company. One aspect of the efficacy framework that stood out to me was transparency. The gallery room had quotes from Pearson employees throughout the Company. Some were in favor of the framework and understood the power of efficacy. There were others who were skeptical of the strategy and questioned Pearson’s intention. This further goes to show that Pearson is willing to have an honest and open conversation about its commitment to efficacy. Pearson does not want to restrain the difference of opinions within the company when it comes to efficacy, but use it to elevate the discussion and improve their products and services. As Michael Barber, Pearson’s Chief Education Advisor, stated during one of the workshops, “Our ability to work collectively will be important to succeed.”

As I was headed back home, I began to reflect on the discussions that took place at The Summit and my own educational journey. My parents, who come from a small village in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, did not have the same resources and opportunities that I am blessed with in my life. Their society did not stress the significance of learning; their parents did not take an interest in their intellectual development; more importantly, their education system was broken. Both my parents left Pakistan and came to the United States so that my siblings and I could have better lives and opportunities. Because of the sacrifices that my parents made, I have come to realize that I have a responsibility to help others who do not have the same opportunities as me. This sense of responsibility is what I felt dominated the discussions at The Summit. Pearson understands that their commitment to learner outcomes and efficacy in education won’t transform the industry overnight, but they need to stay the course and early results show that the strategy is working. If Pearson can continue to do the right things, while demonstrating evidence of learning outcomes, it can help transform the lives of millions of people across the world. The general atmosphere at The Summit can be summed up by a quote from John Fallon’s opening remarks, “The condition of our birth should not be the condition of our life.”

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Hasher was born in Somers Point, NJ. At the age of 7, Hasher moved to Pakistan to learn more about his religion and culture. He spent the next eight years of his life in Islamabad before moving back to the United States in 2008. He served as a board member for the State Farm Youth Advisory Board, where he worked with 29 other individuals to distribute $5 million in service-learning grants to communities across the United States and Canada. In addition, he is a board member for HOPE, a locally funded poverty agency in Middlebury, VT, where he seeks to understand how issues such as homelessness and hunger can be solved at the local level. He is also a 2014 Humanity in Action fellow, a program in which he explored national histories of discrimination and resistance, along with the challenges faced by minorities today. He is also a Nordstrom, Horatio, and Gates Millennium Scholar. He is honored to be a part of the Pearson Student Advisory Board and looks forward to collaborating with the Pearson team and other board members on issues that are important to students. In his spare time, Hasher enjoys playing cricket, reading, and spending time with family and friends.