A global initiative backed by former US President Bill Clinton and aimed at finding the world’s finest teacher has sent out a final call ahead of the closing date for nominations on 5 October.
The Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Prize aims to find extraordinary teaching professionals who have had a profound impact on the lives of their charges and communities.
The Prize 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.
Unveiled at this year’s Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai, the one million dollar Global Teacher Prize is open to teachers worldwide that are currently working in compulsory schooling.
Head-teachers with teaching responsibilities are also eligible to apply.
The public can nominate a teacher, or teachers can apply themselves by submitting an application online.
Ten finalists will be shortlisted by December 2014 with the winner revealed in March 2015. The eventual recipient of the prize will be chosen by the Global Teacher Prize Academy which is made up of head-teachers, education experts, journalists, public officials, scientists and entrepreneurs from around the globe.
Finalists will be judged on whether they meet a variety of criteria, including innovation in the classroom, engagement with the community beyond the school gates, impact on children as well as contributions to the profession of teaching.
Mr Varkey, who has attributed his success to his own “amazing” teachers and parents, said the prize is an attempt to pay tribute to the millions around the world working in one of the world’s most under-valued professions.
“I want to draw attention to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives. They must be returned to their rightful position as the most respected profession in society, which is properly rewarded and celebrated”, he said.
“This prize is not just about money. It’s about unearthing thousands of stories of courage and inspiration. We want to inspire children from far-flung villages, towns and cities around the world to say ‘I want that prize!’ How many kids say they want to be a reality TV star? Let’s get them aiming to be the greatest teacher in the world”, Mr Varkey added.
Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey, who sits on the Global Teacher Prize Academy that will choose the final winner, said: “When I was starting out, I was inspired by an older, more experienced actor, who told me that he thought I ought to go into acting professionally. That’s the kind of mentoring and personal support that every young person needs to realise their potential.
“It’s the kind of encouragement and guidance that good teachers give to their pupils every day. And that is why I support the Varkey GEMS Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize. However much we achieve in life, we all began learning the basics from a teacher in a classroom.
“Those that teach – devoting their talents and time to nurturing the talents of others – deserve to be respected and celebrated”, Spacey added.
The winner of the Global Teacher Prize will receive his or her $1 million prize over a ten-year period and will be required to remain a teacher for a minimum of five years after winning the prize.
The winner will also be invited to serve as a global ambassador for the Varkey GEMS Foundation, their teaching schedule permitting.
The Global Teacher Prize is one of a number of initiatives aimed at raising the profile of teaching undertaken by the Varkey GEMS Foundation since its founding in 2010.
The Foundation – chaired by President Clinton and backed by Amnesty International, Oxfam, UNICEF and the Tony Blair Faith Foundation, among others – aims to impact 100 poor children from across the developing world for every child enrolled at one of the 132 schools run by GEMS around the world.
Among the Foundation’s projects are training programs for teachers serving Palestinian refugee children in Lebanon; another aimed at encouraging access to education for girls as well as numerous school building projects.
For more information and to apply for the prize, visit www.globalteacherprize.org
Watch to President Clinton deliver the keynote speech at this year’s inaugural Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai: