Image of Arif Naveed

PhD student wins Bill Gates Senior award

A Jesus College graduate student has been named joint winner of the prestigious annual Bill Gates Senior prize, awarded by the Gates Cambridge Trust.

Arif Naveen, a Gates Scholar and PhD student at the University's Faculty of Education, has been awarded the prize in recognition of his outstanding research and social leadership. Award winners are nominated by their peers amongst the Gates Scholar community. 

The Gates Cambridge award announcement outlines Arif's accomplishments, including his work: "with government, think tanks and the UK’s Department for International Development on education reform, specifically targeting the poorest, marginalised communities and girls. He is one of the lead designers of the Punjab Education Reforms currently being enacted in Pakistan with support from the UK’s DFID. These prioritise under-performing regions and aim at improving learning levels in more than 50 thousand schools in the province while also reaching out to 13 million out of school children. The impact of these reforms is greatly applauded internationally, with The Economist calling them exemplary for developing countries. He was co-author of an influential report of the US Commission on International Religious Freedom which reportedly led to a significant reduction in the pejorative portrayal of religious diversity in public school textbooks in Pakistan. Recently, his work was adopted by the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund to prioritise the poorest regions for poverty reduction projects across the country."

Talking about the award, Arif says: "I feel greatly privileged to be part of the community of the Gates Scholars who simultaneously motivate, inspire, challenge and support each other through their intellectual brilliance, leadership and passion to service. Receiving this award jointly with the highly accomplished Jerelle Joseph provides me fresh inspirations for working towards promoting social justice in and through education."

Arif studied for his M.Phil in Educational Research at Jesus College before winning a Gates Scholarship for his PhD, supervised by two College Fellows - Professors Madeleine Arnot and Anna Vignoles.

Professor Arnot, said: "This prestigious prize rightly recognises Arif's exceptional contribution to tackling poverty, discrimination and social inequality in Pakistan. His work on regional educational reform, policy-think tanks, on religious teaching and on social mobility is pioneering. Jesus College has gained greatly from his scholarship and generous community spirit. He has our warmest congratulations."

Professor Vignoles, commented: "We are delighted that Arif has won this well deserved award. He is an exemplary student who has made a fantastic contribution both academically to Jesus College and the Faculty, and most crucially to the wider world."