Prince Harry has congratulated the top 10 finalists in the British based Varkey Foundation’s 2017 Global teacher Prize.
Many of us have been taught by teachers who have inspired us and made a difference to our lives.
Teachers have the power to make or break lives. While a great lesson can inspire a lifetime passion for a subject, lacklustre teaching can kill any future desire for learning.
The Varkey Foundation have said they believe that teachers who make a significant difference in their students’ lives – sometimes against all odds – deserve to be celebrated.
Their Global Teacher Prize does just that. It awards $1 million to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession.
The finalists for this year’s award were announced by the President of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim in a video posted last month.
Among the finalists this year are Salima Begum from Pakistan, David Calle from Spain, Wemerson de Silva Nogueira from Brazil, Marie-Christine Ghanbari Jahromni from Germany, Tracy-Ann Hall from Jamaica, Maggie MacDonnell from Canada, Ken Silburn from Australia and Boya Yang from China.
Flying the flags for Kenya and the UK are Michael Wamaya and Raymond Chambers.
Dance teacher Michael runs a ballet school in the heart of the notorious Kibera slum in Kenya’s capital Nairobi. Home to 700,000 people, Kibera is an unlikely setting for a ballet school. With the help of Michael’s dedicated teaching, under the tin roofs of community buildings, students have become accomplished dancers, winning scholarships to further their education.
Over Christmas some performed The Nutcracker at the Kenya National Theatre. With Michael’s tutoring and mentorship, this alternative arts project has provided a safe space for orphans and vulnerable children from the slums to grow, develop their skills and access opportunities. Michael’s encouragement of pride and self-awareness amongst his young students has also helped turn around school dropout rates and teenage pregnancy rates for those attending his lessons.
When Computer Science graduate Ray began teaching, he found the lessons prepared for students dull and uninspiring.
He started developing new software for learning using Microsoft Kinect. He was encouraged by a leap in both engagement and academic achievement from his computing students, so he decided to share this work and best practice with other teachers. Ray’s YouTube channel has now had more than 250,000 hits. The BBC asked him to contribute its Microbit resources which are issued to teachers nationally in the UK.
If he were to win the prize, he would use the funds to support charitable work improving computer science education in the UK and Africa.
The winner of the 2017 Global Teacher Prize will be announced during the Global Education and Skills Conference in Dubai on 19th March.
In last year’s awards, British teacher Colin Hegarty and Kenyan teacher Ayub Mohamud made the final shortlist, but were unfortunately not chosen as the overall winner.