Four teachers from India and two from Pakistan have made the shortlist for the $1 million Global Teacher Prize 2016.
Now in its second year, the Global Teacher Prize is often referred to as the ‘Nobel Prize for Teaching’ and recognizes one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.
This year’s 50-strong shortlist includes Indian teachers Robin Chaurasiya, Dhaval Bathia, Santhi Karamcheti and Rashmi Kathuria as well as Neelofar Ali, Aqeela Asifi and Humaira Bachal from Pakistan.
Ms Chaurasiya is the founder of Kranti, a non-profit that empowers marginalized girls from Mumbai’s notorious red-light districts to become agents of social change. Her students, girls aged 12-20, include survivors of trafficking and daughters of sex workers. She has formalised a Social Justice curriculum at Kranti covering the key issues that affect the girls’ lives, such as caste, class, religion, environment and healthcare. The innovative school week consists of Music Mondays, TED Talk Tuesdays, Worldly Wednesdays, Thinking Thursdays and Field Trip Fridays. Weekends include plays, films, and exhibits, as well as required volunteer work in an NGO of their choice. Robin’s students, called ‘Krantikaries’ (Revolutionaries) have gone on to conduct workshops at schools and NGOs for more than 100,000 students and parents, and delivered 11 TEDx talks around the world. They have also written a play about their experiences, which they performed across the US and even at Facebook’s and Google’s headquarters.
Dhaval Bathia meanwhile is from Genesis Education, Mumbai. A child mathematics prodigy and trained lawyer, Bathia decided to take up teaching, joining Genesis Education. Bathia’s focus areas include mathematics, memory enhancement and “3D Learning”. Although aged just 32, Bathia has already published five books and 19 tutorial CD’s for teachers and students. Bathia is now working on his sixth book.
Santhi Karamcheti, from EDventure Academy, Bangalore, is a specialist in education for special needs children. A post-grad in Human Genetics, Ms Karamcheti discovered her calling while volunteering at an orphanage for children with hearing and speech impediments. She later founded EDventure Academy which is home to hundreds of special needs children – aged between two-and-a-half and 20. Students are trained towards adapting and integrating into mainstream schools.
Rashmi Kathuria, is from the Kulachi Hansraj Model School in Delhi. The school uses a so-called “blended approach” of teaching – apart from covering literacy and numeracy, Ms Kathuria teachers her students’ life skills, entrepreneurial skills and provides knowledge about global citizenship.
Kabul-born Aqeela Asifi trained as a teacher at a time when education was free and open to all in Afghanistan. Fleeing the country after the Taliban came to power in 1992, Ms She was forced to leave Afghanistan when the Taliban took over in 1992, Asifi became a revolutionary teacher at the Kot Chandana refugee camp in northwestern Pakistan. At the time there were no operational schools in the area and over time she turned her school into a formal secondary school for girls which produced 1,000 graduates. They were mainly Afghan refugee girls, but Aqeela made sure that local Pakistani children were included as well. Today the camp is home to nine schools in the camp with many female teachers and over 1,500 students, 900 of whom are girls.
Neelofar Ali is an early childhood educator who currently works for the Rupani Foundation in Pakistan. She set up the first Montessori school in Gilgit Baltistan, Pakistan, and thus introduced its Early Childhood Development model and stimulating teaching style to the region. In collaboration with Plan International she went on to establish 34 ECD centers and train 98 caregivers in the Thatta District, providing support for marginalized children in villages.
Humaira Bachal meanwhile is an advocate for girls’ education and for interactive teaching styles in Pakistan. She is the first female child in her family to be educated, and suffered opposition and abuse from community elders and her own father because of this. When she was 10 years old, she was shocked when her infant cousin died because the child’s illiterate mother had not been able to read the expiry date on his fever medicine. The tragedy spurred her on to a mission of literacy for girls. At the age of 12, still a student herself, she started classes for impoverished children in her neighbourhood. At that time she and her little sister had to knock on doors and convince parents of the benefits of education. Today, a decade later, there are 1,200 students enrolled at their Dream Model Street School on the outskirts of Karachi.
The winner of this year’s Global Teacher Prize will be revealed at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on 16 March 2016.
GTP is the brainchild of Dubai-based Indian billionaire and UNESCO goodwill ambassador Sunny Varkey, founder of GEMS Education, the world’s largest operator of private kindergarten-to-grade 12 schools.
“We were overwhelmed by the huge support the Global Teacher Prize received in its first year. We intend to keep this momentum going as our journey continues to return teachers to their rightful position as one of the most respected professions in society. The thousands of nominations and applications we received from every corner of the planet is testimony to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives”, Mr Varkey said.
For the full shortlist, visit www.globalteacherprize.org.