On the day that prize applications open, over 25 former world leaders call on Governments around the world to protect and value teachers.
Teachers from India were today urged to apply for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2016 at globalteacherprize.org.
Now in its second year, and widely referred to as the Nobel Prize for teaching, the US$1 million award is the largest prize of its kind.
It was set up to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as 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.
Last year, an impressive total of 193 teachers from India applied for the prize, which was higher than any other country including the US (174) and Nigeria (98). As a result, India had three teachers in the final 50 shortlisted candidates and one teacher in the final ten. This year, if more teachers from India apply and are shortlisted as top 50 candidates and top ten finalists, their inspirational stories can be publicised, helping to raise the bar of respect for the profession.
Kiran Bir Sethi, a teacher at The Riverside School in Ahmedabad, who competed against over 1000 teachers from across the world to become a top ten finalist for the Global Teacher Prize 2015, said:
"Why should you apply? How can you not apply? How can your great, inspiring work stay in the shadows of the hallways and the classrooms? The world order needs to be jolted, provoked and challenged by all the incredible teachers who have continued to push the boundaries of learning, risking reputation and jobs for what really matters.
"You are who we are all waiting for. Don’t wait a second more. Allow the Varkey Foundation to place the spotlight firmly on your amazing work and give a face to education."
At the same time as applications were declared open today, the Varkey Foundation and Club de Madrid published an open letter signed by over 25 former world leaders calling on 'Governments around the world to protect and value teachers, and play their part in restoring the respect that they so richly deserve'.
The letter also argues that: 'Frequently the ills of society are laid at the door of teachers. They are blamed for everything from a decline in manners among young people to a lack of basic skills in the workplace. They have even, on occasion, been blamed for a country’s poor economic performance. Too often politicians see teachers as an easy target for short-term political gain.'
Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Global Teacher Prize, thanked the signatories of the letter. He said: 'Teachers matter. These former world leaders understand that we need great teachers to grow great minds in order to solve the world’s problems. Raising the bar of respect and celebrating teachers across the world can play an important role in helping to recruit and retain the best candidates for the profession.'
The applicants for the Global Teacher Prize 2016 will be shortlisted down to a top fifty and then a final ten, which will be announced in February 2016. The winner will be chosen from the ten finalists by the global teacher prize academy made up of prominent individuals including academy award winning actor Kevin Spacey; Wendy Kopp, CEO Teach For All; and Brett Wigdortz, Founder of Teach First.
All ten finalists will be flown to Dubai for an award ceremony taking place at the Global Education and Skills Forum in March 2016 where the winner will be announced live. The closing date for applications is the 10 October 2015.
Since its launch in March 2014, the Global Teacher Prize has received huge global support from heads of state, prime ministers, education ministers, business leaders and NGO heads. The Pope also met a selection of last year’s shortlisted candidiates inside the Vatican. The story of the last year’s top ten finalists and eventual winner, Nancie Atwell, a teacher from Maine, US, was written and broadcast by some of the world’s most influential media outlets.
Sunny Varkey, added: 'Last year, we were proud to receive over 5000 nominations for the Global Teacher Prize. However, we want to see many more exceptional teachers from every corner of the planet apply this year, especially from India. The more teachers that apply, the greater the celebration for this most noble of professions.'
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said: 'I count my teachers as among the most influential people in my life. Teachers are entrusted with nurturing the potential of the young and helping them blossom as productive and responsible members of society. It is hard to underestimate their value.'
'I applaud the launch of the Global Teacher Prize, which recognizes their worth. The award is in line with my Global Education First Initiative, launched in 2012, which aims to give momentum to the worldwide movement to put every child in school, improve the quality of learning and foster global citizenship.'
Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, said:
'We were so excited by the plans to launch the Global Teacher Prize. I also want to recognise the leadership of Sunny Varkey, Founder of GEMS Education, who had the idea for this prize and is a great partner for our Foundation.'
The Prize is open to currently working teachers who teach children that are in compulsory schooling, or are between the ages of five and eighteen. Teachers who teach on a part-time basis are also eligible, as are teachers of online courses. The Prize is open to teachers in every kind of school and, subject to local laws, in every country in the world.
The public can nominate a teacher, or teachers can apply themselves by filling an application form at globalteacherprize.org. If teachers are being nominated, the person nominating them will write a brief description online explaining why. The teacher being nominated will then be sent an email letting them know they’ve been nominated and inviting them to apply for the prize. Applicants can apply in English, Mandarin, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian. To join the conversation online follow @TeacherPrize and #teachersmatter on: www.twitter.com/TeacherPrize and www.facebook.com/TeacherPrize
Notes for editors:
1. The Varkey Foundation believes every child deserves a vibrant, stimulating learning environment that awakens and supports their full potential. We believe nothing is more important to achieving this than the passion and quality of teachers. We support global teaching capacity and seed excellence and innovation in the next generation of educators. We also founded the Global Teacher Prize to shine a spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over the world. https://www.varkeyfoundation.org
2. The top 50 shortlisted teachers will be narrowed down to the final ten teachers by a Prize Committee. The winner was then chosen from these ten finalists by the Global Teacher Prize Academy. The Prize Committee and the Academy will look for evidence that applicants for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize meet the following criteria:
Recognition of a teacher’s achievements in the classroom and beyond from pupils, colleagues, head-teachers or members of the wider community.
Employing innovative and effective instructional practices
Achieving demonstrable student learning outcomes in the classroom.
Ensuring children receive a values-based education that prepares them to be global citizens in a world where they will encounter people from many different religions, cultures and nationalities.
Achievements in the community beyond the classroom that provide unique and distinguished models of excellence for the teaching profession and others.
Encouraging others to join the teaching profession. Contributing to public debates on the teaching profession, whether through writing articles, blogs, media participation, social media campaigns, events or conferences.
3. The Global Teacher Prize winner will be paid the prize money in equal installments over ten years, and the Varkey Foundation will provide the winner with financial counseling. Without compromising their work in the classroom, the winner will be asked to serve as a global ambassador for the Varkey Foundation, attending public events and speaking in public forums about improving the prestige of the teaching profession. A condition of winning the prize is that the winner remains as a classroom teacher for at least five years.
4. Teachers who are applying will have to provide references from their current supervisor and up to two additional references. These can include video testimonials about their work in the classroom and beyond, and can come from pupils, colleagues, head-teachers as well as members of the wider community.
5. PriceWaterhouseCoopers will be responsible for ensuring that the balloting process is fair and accurate. Criminal record and other background checks will be conducted on the shortlisted candidates.
6. The terms and conditions of the prize nullify any applications from those with criminal convictions. The winner will be expected to remain an upstanding citizen and do nothing to bring the profession of teachers into disrepute. Any outstanding payments will cease to any winner who has not met these standards.
7. The Global Teacher Prize is part of the Varkey Foundation’s long-standing commitment to improve the status of teachers. In November 2013, the foundation published the Global Teacher Status Index, the first attempt to compare attitudes towards teachers in 21 countries. The index found that there were significant differences between the status of teachers worldwide. The survey also found that in many countries, between a third and half of parents would 'probably' or 'definitely not' encourage their children to enter the teaching profession. The full Global Teacher Status Index can be found at: https://www.varkeyfoundation.org/teacherindex