Soulaima Gourani was in 2014 appointed to the judging academy of the Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Prize, a one million dollar award that will be given to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.
The Global Teacher Prize Academy will vote for a winner from a shortlist of ten finalists this November. It includes other respected leaders in their field such as Academy Award winning actor Kevin Spacey; Baroness Martha Lane Fox, founder of Lastminute.com; the Grammy winning jazz musician and singer Esperanza Spalding; US social activist and educator Geoffrey Canada; Nigerian businessman Jubril Adewale Tinubu, Group CEO, Oando; Strive Masiyiwa, Founder & Executive Chairman, Econet Wireless, South Africa; British philosopher David Rodin; Hadeel Ibrahim, the Executive Director of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, and Jiang Xueqin, Vice-Principal, Tsinghua International School, China.
The Academy is made up of head-teachers, educational experts, commentators, journalists, public officials, tech entrepreneurs, company directors and scientists from the UK, the US, Indonesia, China, Vietnam, Myanmar, Austria, Pakistan, Philippines, Netherlands, Thailand, Kenya, South Africa, Japan, Nigeria, Uganda, Singapore, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India and Turkey.
The Global Teacher prize will be won by a teacher who has achieved exceptional results in student learning, and won the respect of the community through activities beyond the classroom. He/she will have provided a role model to other teachers through charity, community work or other cultural achievements. The winner will also have encouraged other teachers to join the profession and contributed to discussions and debates about how to raise teaching standards. He/she will also have opened up access to a quality education for children of all backgrounds, and prepared young people to be ‘global citizens’, comfortable with peers from different ethnic and religious backgrounds.
Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey GEMS Foundation, said:
“I’m extremely pleased that Soulaima Gourani has joined me in drawing attention to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives through joining the Global Teacher Prize academy”
“I believe they must be returned to their rightful position as the most respected profession in society, which is properly rewarded and celebrated”.
The award, the equivalent of a ‘Nobel Prize’, will operate under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai. It will underline the importance of the teaching profession and symbolise the fact that teachers throughout the world deserve to be recognised and celebrated.
President Bill Clinton, Honorary Chairman of the Varkey GEMS 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.”
The prize is open to currently working teachers who teach children that are in compulsory schooling, or are below the age of eighteen. Head-teachers with teaching responsibilities are also eligible to apply. The prize is open to teachers in every kind of school and, subject to local laws, in every country in the world. The closing date for applications will be August 31st 2014, and the winner will be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum 2015 in Dubai next spring.
The public can nominate a teacher, or teachers can apply themselves by filling an application form at globalteacherprize.com. 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, and from May onwards, in Mandarin, Arabic, French, Spanish and Portuguese. To join the conversation online follow #TeacherPrize on: www.twitter.com/TeacherPrize and www.facebook.com/TeacherPrize
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.
The winner will be paid the prize money in equal instalments over ten years. Without compromising their work in the classroom, the winner will be asked to serve as a global ambassador for the Varkey GEMS Foundation, attend public events and speak 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.
Prior to voting by the Global Teacher Prize Academy, a prize committee will draw up a short-list of ten candidates. This prize committee Includes Sunny Varkey, Founder, Varkey GEMS Foundation; Vikas Pota, CEO of the Varkey GEMS Foundation; Sir Michael Tomlinson, former Chief Inspector of Schools, UK; Ann Mroz, Editor, Times Education Supplement; and Karen Giles, Headteacher, Barham Primary School, London.
The Global Teacher Prize follows a long-standing commitment to improve the status of teachers by the Varkey GEMS Foundation (VGF). Last November, the VGF 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.
In two-thirds of countries, the status of teachers was judged to be most similar to that of social workers. Only in China did people rank teachers as having a similar status to doctors. The survey also found that in many countries – including Portugal, Japan, Brazil, Germany, Czech Republic, Germany, France, and Italy – between a third and half of parents would probably or definitely not encourage their children from entering the teaching profession.
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