Indian Teacher Makes Final Ten For World’s First $1 Million Global Teacher Prize

Published: 13th February 2015 02:13 PM  |   Last Updated: 13th February 2015 02:13 PM   |  A+A-

Kiran Bir Sethi, a teacher at The Riverside School in Ahmedabad, hasbeen named as a top ten finalist for the one million dollar Global Teacher Prize, it was announced today.

Widely referred to as the Nobel Prize for teaching, the $1 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, is the largest prize of its kind and will be given to one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.

Kiran Bir Sethi, along with the other nine finalists, will be flown to Dubai for an award ceremony taking place on Sunday 15 March at the Global Education and Skills Forum. The winner will be presented the prize by Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation, in front of Education Ministers, international education experts and global business leaders.

The winning teacher will be chosen from the ten finalists by a global academy made up of prominent individuals including academy award winning actor Kevin Spacey; social activist Geoffrey Canada; entrepreneur Baroness Martha Lane Fox; Carina Wong, Deputy Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Wendy Kopp, CEO Teach for all; Brett Wigdortz, Founder of Teach first; Grammy award winning musician Esperanza Spalding; Nigerian businessman JubrilAdewaleTinubu; and Vice-Principal, Tsinghua International School, China.

The prize was set up 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. Ultimately, by hoping to raise teacher respect across the world, it aims to play a part in helping recruit and retain the best candidates for the profession.

Since the prize was launched in March 2014 it has received huge global support, including public backing from world leaders Queen Rania of Jordan, Malaysian Prime Minister NajibRazak and Italian Prime Minister MatteoRenzi. The Italian PM recently invited top 50 shortlisted candidateDaniela Boscoloto speak at his school reform event in Rome. Turkish Education Minister NabiAvci recently met top 50 shortlisted candidateDilekLivaneli to better understand her high impact teaching methods.

Official congratulatory billboards were also placed at bus stops in her home town of Samsun. Other Education Ministers from around the world have also met and sent messages of support to their respective top 50 shortlisted candidates.

The top ten finalists were narrowed down from the top 50 shortlisted candidates, which were chosen from over 5,000 nominations and 1,300 final applications from 127 countries including the US, UK, Italy, Kenya, Uganda, India, Afghanistan, Australia, Argentina Mexico and Jordan, amongst others.

The top ten finalists are:

  • AzizullahRoyesh, Marefat High School, Kabul, Afghanistan
  • KiranBirSethi, The Riverside School, Ahmedabad, India
  • Guy Etienne, College CattsPressoir, Port-au-Prince, Haiti
  • Jacqueline Jumbe-Kahura, Bofa Primary school, Kilifi, Kenya
  • Nancie Atwell, The Center for Teaching and Learning, Southport, Maine,USA
  • Naomi Volain, Springfield Central High School, Springfield, Massachusetts,USA
  • NeangPhalla, Phnom Penh Thmey, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
  • Madenjit Singh, Science of Life Studies 247, Dili, Timor Leste, Malaysia
  • Richard Spencer, Middlesbrough College, Billingham, United Kingdom
  • Stephen Ritz, Public School 55, Bronx, New York, USA

Kiran Bir Sethi set up the groundbreaking Riverside School. Central to the school's method is Kiran's background in design, which she describes as Design Thinking. This focuses on encouraging students to understand empathetically rather than just intellectually. This in turn encourages collaboration and the creation of future 'citizen leaders' who have a vivid grasp of how to help others. It has also had an effect on the wider community through the 'aProCh' program, which is a city project promoting the celebration of childhood.

Kiran Bir Sethi, said:
"I teach because I love learning and no two days are ever the same - so, everyday I can become an explorer, or an artist, a magician or a storyteller. Teaching design thinking cultivates the design mindset - building empathy, ethics and elevation. To see the children and teachers look at situations as 'opportunities' instead of 'problems' is the greatest joy."
Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation, said:

"The huge global support we have received for this prize is testimony to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives. We introduced the prize in order toreturn teachers to their rightful position - belonging to one of the most respected professions in society.

"Themany applications prove that the prize is not only about money; it's also about unearthing thousands of stories of inspiration"
"Of course, more will be needed than the Global Teacher Prize to raise the status of profession worldwide.  But my hope is that it's the start of many conversations around the world about the role of teachers - from families around the dinner table and teenagers on social media to education ministries around the world."
President Bill Clinton, Honorary Chairman of the Varkey Foundation, said:

"Attracting the best people to teaching, developing and supporting their skills, and holding our teachers in high regard — all are critically important to achieve excellence, both in teaching and learning."
Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey, who sits on the Global Teacher Prize Academy that chooses 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 VarkeyFoundation'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"

Follow The New Indian Express channel on WhatsApp


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp