Seven teachers from five African countries have been included in the top 50 shortlist for the Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize 2018.
Now in its fourth year, the US$1 million (Shs3.6bn) award is the largest prize of its kind.
Catherine Nakabugo from Uganda, Ayodele Odeogbola and Itodo Anthony from Nigeria, Marjirie Brown and Wendy Horn from South Africa, Abdikadir Ismail from Kenya and Sitsofe Enyonam Anku from Ghana made it to the shortlist.
They were selected from over 30,000 nominations and applications from 173 countries around the world.
The Global Teacher Prize was set up by the Varkey Foundation, founded by Indian billionaire Sunny Varkey, to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society.
By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of millions of teachers all over the world.
Ugandan teacher Catherine Nakabugo is passionate about girls’ education. She has helped her students to establish a number of successful school businesses that help them learn valuable life skills as well as strengthening their academic skills, such as maths through working on the accounts. In 2014, her district was the winner in a National Science competition with her project of Pythagoras’s chair. She was a member of the National Organizing Committee of the International Day of the Girl Child in where she helped organize and mentor girls through capacity and confidence building sessions.
Ayodele Odeogbola uses collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication, combined with innovation and new technology to transform teaching as he explores personalized learning opportunities with specially chosen gifted students acting as group leaders and reviewing every school activity. He has brought technology industry experts into his classroom, and linked his class using Skype and social media to peers in schools in India and Lebanon.
Itodo Anthony teaches the virtues of justice, institutional soundness, community service, value creation, among others, all elements from other cultures that can help create an ideal value system among Nigerian youth. In May 2017 he founded a community-based organisation for youth – New Frontiers Youth Forum. It welcomes membership from 13-35 year olds with the aim of raising young leaders to act as positive change agents within the community. In October the Forum commissioned a community library as the locale had no library where students and others could study in comfort or have access to affordable resources.
Abdikadir Ismail is an administrator of a thoroughly under resourced school, who saw an opportunity to make a difference by using technology. With no science lab at his school he sent teachers to schools with those facilities who filmed their practical experiments and these were played back via laptop in his school, embedded into PowerPoint presentations.
Wendy Horn is passionate about Science and technology. On top of teaching science at her school she talks to educators about how to teach science, engage learners, use technology, and make it hands-on, practical and relevant. As principal of a new school, Wendy mentors and guides her teachers, many of whom were beginners.
Marjorie Brown is a former human rights activist teaching history to girls and encouraging critical thinking and global citizenship. Her students have gone on to represent South Africa at youth forums, the Paris Climate Talks and various Ivy League universities. She started and still leads the Kids Lit in SA programme devoted to improving children’s literacy and its Kids’ Lit Quiz, launched 26 years ago, which over 100 schools take part in, has boosted the stocks of books in libraries throughout the land and mobilized teachers to act as coaches and reading champions with students.
Sitsofe Enyonam Anku is an internationally renowned maths educator, promoting practical mathematics to overcome student fears of the subject and helping them appreciate its real life applications. He set up the Meagasa Mathematics Academy to support children aged 6 to 18 and his teaching programmes have helped students find enjoyment and excitement in mathematics, as they learn to communicate confidently, work well in teams and respect others’ opinions. Now his teaching methodologies are used in classrooms across Ghana and other parts of the world.
The top 50 shortlist has representatives from 33 countries and by highlighting their stories the Varkey Foundation hopes that the public will be able to join in passionate debates about the importance of teachers. The top 50 shortlisted teachers are narrowed down to ten finalist teachers by a Prize Committee. The winner will be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on Sunday 18 March 2018.
The Global Teacher Prize was founded by Indian billionaire Sunny Varkey, owner of GEMS Education, the world’s largest operator of K-12 schools.