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Education & Career

Final call for Indian teachers to enter the one million dollar Global Teacher Prize

LONDON: A final call for Indian teachers to enter the one million dollar Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Prize was issued today. The award will be given to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession 2014-08-25 18:46:55
25 August 2014



The final closing date for nominations and application is 5th October 2014 with the winner will be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai March 2015.

Kerala born Entrepreneur Sunny Varkey launched Global Teacher Prize at the Global Education & Skills Forum 2014. Sunny Varkey is a UNESCO goodwill ambassador and a previous winner of the Padma Shri award.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey GEMS Foundation, said:
“I want to draw attention to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives. They must be returned to their rightful position as the most respected profession in society, which is properly rewarded and celebrated”.
“This prize is not just about money. It’s about unearthing thousands of stories of courage and inspiration.
“We want to inspire children from far-flung villages, towns and cities around the world to say ‘I want that prize!’ How many kids say they want to be a reality TV star? Let’s get them aiming to be the greatest teacher in the world”
Sunny Varkey’s speech launching the prize can be seen here:

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 Varkey GEMS Foundation’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”

Academy judge Vandana Goyal, CEO, The Akanksha Foundation, India said:

“My 8th grade math teacher made me feel like being good at math was something that should make me proud and not embarrassed. From her, I learned how to embrace who I was, even if it made me feel a little different from everyone else. Great teachers have the power to help us accept ourselves, both our talents as well as our shortcomings. They give us confidence as we face the challenging experiences of growing up, and love us and help us grow, in the same way that our parents do.”

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 Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Prize – the equivalent of the ‘Nobel Prize’ - is the largest prize of its kind with a one million dollar award open to teachers worldwide that are currently working 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 public can nominate a teacher, or teachers can apply themselves by filling an application form at If teachers are being nominated, the person nominating them has to 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 and Russian here:

To join the conversation online follow #TeacherPrize on:

Initial applications will be judged by a prize committee, who will meet this November to choose a shortlist of ten candidates. The prize committee will include Sunny Varkey, Founder, Varkey GEMS Foundation; Vikas Pota, Chairman of the Varkey GEMS Foundation; Sir Michael Tomlinson, former Chief Inspector of Schools; Ann Mroz, Editor, Times Education Supplement; and Karen Giles, Headteacher, Barham Primary School, London.

A winner will be chosen from these ten finalists in December 2014 by the Global Teacher Prize Academy 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, Nigeria, Japan, Nigeria, Uganda, Singapore, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, India and Turkey. All ten finalists will be invited to Dubai for the Award ceremony at the Global Education and Skills Forum in March 2015.

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, and the Varkey GEMS Foundation will provide the winner with financial counselling. Without compromising their work in the classroom, the winner will be asked to serve as a global ambassador for the Varkey GEMS 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.

The Global Teacher Prize follows a long-standing commitment to improve the status of and celebrate teachers by the Varkey GEMS Foundation (VGF), so that children will dream of becoming the best teacher in the world.

For more information please email


1. The Varkey GEMS Foundation is the philanthropic arm of GEMS Education. Its aim is to impact 100 underprivileged children for every child enrolled in a GEMS school. The Honorary Chair of the Foundation is former US President, Bill Clinton.

2. The judging academy will include Munira Mirza, Deputy Mayor of London; John Riady, Executive Director, LIPPO Group, Indonesia; Jiang Xueqin, Vice-Principal, Tsinghua International School, China; Le Thu Thu Thuy, Vice-Chairwoman and Chief Executive Officer, Vingroup Joint Stock Company, Vietnam; Thura Ko Ko, Managing Director, YGA Capital, Myanmar; Eva Dichand, Editor, Heute, Austria; Kasim Kasuri, CEO Beaconhouse School System, Pakistan; Karen Davila, News Anchor and Correspondent, ABS-CBN Television Network, Philippines; Timothy Chen, Vice-President, Business Development and Strategy, VIA Technologies, HTC-VIA, China; Jeremy Balkin, Founder, Give While You Live, Australia; Soulaima Gourani, Author, Denmark; Rex A. Barnardo, Director of Research, Mabini Colleges, Philippines; Claire Boonstra, Founder, Operation Education, Netherlands; Nitsara Karoonuthaisiri, Head, Microarray Laboratory, National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Thailand; Avril Halstead, Chief Director, National Treasury, South Africa; Ory Okolloh, Director of Investments, Omidyar Network, South Africa; Esperanza Spalding, Grammy winning music artist, USA Ayla Goksel, CEO, ACEV, Turkey; Merieme Chadid, Explorer and Astronomer, Antarctica Research Station; Brett Wigdortz, CEO, Teach First, UK; Loulwa Bakr, Investment Banker, Saudi Arabia; Ana Gabriela Pessoa, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Ezlearn, Brazil; Areena Loo, Founder & Chief Executive, Bridge Learning, Singapore; Vandana Goyal, CEO, The Akanksha Foundation, India; Moís Cherem Arana, Managing Director & CEO, Enova, Mexico; Wendy Kopp, Founder, Teach for America, USA; Baroness Martha Lane Fox, UK; David Rodin, Philosopher, UK; Arif Rachmat, Director, Triputra Investindo Arya (Triputra Group), Indonesia; Gemma Mortensen, Executive Director, Crisis Action, UK; Analisa Balares, CEO & Founder, Womensphere; Chair, Womensphere Foundation, USA; Yanovskiy, Founder and Managing Partner, First Nation Société Bancaire, Russia; Lopa Patel, Editor,, UK; Dave Hanley, Principal, Deloitte Digital, USA; Herman Kasekende, CEO & MD, Standard Chartered Bank, Uganda; Shalini Mahtani, Founder, The Zubin Foundation, Hong Kong; Claire Hsu, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Asia Art Archive, Hong Kong; Lin Kobayashi, Co-Founder and Chair of the Board, Foundation for International School of Asia, Karuizawa, Japan; Hadeel Ibrahim, Executive Director, Mo Ibrahim Foundation, USA; Jubril Adewale Tinubu, Group CEO, Oando, Nigeria; Strive Masiyiwa, Founder & Executive Chairman, Econet Wireless, South Africa; Christopher Khaemba, Governor, Centre for Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education in Africa, Kenya; Chris Pope, Co-Director, The Prince’s Teaching Institute, UK; Gina Badenoch, Professional Photographer & Social Entrepreneur, Mexico; Tariq Al Gurg, CEO, Dubai Cares, UAE; Futhi Mtoba, Chairperson, Deloitte South Africa; Jeff Canada, CEO, Harlem Children’s Zone, USA; Angela A. Sun, Chief-of-Staff to the President and CEO of Bloomberg, L.P. USA; Lutfey Siddiqi, Adjunct Professor & Banker, UBS; Eli Pariser, Co-Founder, Upworthy; Dean and Professor, James E Ryan, Harvard Graduate School of Education; Jane McAdams, Professor and Director, Andrew & Renata Kaldor Centre for International Refugee Law; Jordan Shapiro, Philosophy Professor, Temple University, Philadephia; John Osborn, President and CEO, BBDO; Stephanie Marshall, Founding President and President Emerita, Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy; Vicki Davis, IT Director, Westwood Schools.

3. The prize committee will look for evidence that applicants for the Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Prize have met the following criteria:
Innovative and effective instructional practices and student learning outcomes in the classroom and school.
Accomplishments beyond the classroom that provide role models for the teaching profession – whether through charitable or community work, or through sporting, academic or cultural achievement.
Contributions to public debates on raising the bar of the teaching profession, whether through writing articles, blogs, take part in media and social media campaigns, events or conferences.
Sharing inspirational education practices with other teachers
Preparing children to be global citizens in a world where they will encounter people from many different religions, cultures and nationalities.
Improving access to a quality education for children of all backgrounds.
Third party recognition of a teacher’s achievements in the classroom and beyond. This can include pupils, colleagues, head-teacher as well as members of the wider community – including government, faith organisations and business. Supporting written and/or video testimonials should be provided.
Encouraging others to join the teaching profession

4. PriceWaterhouseCooper 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.

5. 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.

6. Any costs and expenses that the winning teacher’s school face because of their absence from the classroom will be reimbursed by the Varkey GEMS Foundation.

7. Applications cannot be accepted from countries that prevent teachers by law from entering work-related competitions.

Press Information

Published by
Ishara Callan

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