Congratulations, Sister Zeph is this year’s Global Teacher Prize winner!
Pakistani teacher Sister Zeph founded her own school for underprivileged children at the age of 13. According to the Global Teacher Prize website, she worked eight hour days to fund the school, then taught students for another four hours, and then stayed up at night teaching herself.
Twenty-six years later, the school provides free education for more than 200 underprivileged children.
Sister’s dedication to education and empowerment has touched countless lives and earned her numerous awards, recognizing her as a true change-maker and advocate for women’s rights and children’s education around the world.
Global Teacher Prize 2023
In the world of education, there’s an accolade that shines a spotlight on the unsung heroes – The Global Teacher Prize. More than just an award (and a USD $1 million prize!), it’s a beacon that illuminates the outstanding contributions of teachers globally. Founded by the Varkey Foundation, this prestigious honor recognizes educators whose innovative methods and profound impact shape the future generation.
But this isn’t just about a trophy and applause. It’s a global movement, a platform to exchange groundbreaking teaching methodologies, and a celebration of those exceptional mentors who go above and beyond in nurturing young minds.
What is the Global Teacher Prize?
The Global Teacher Prize is a USD $1 million award presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession. It’s a prize created in collaboration with UNESCO.
The impact of the Global Teacher Prize has been profound since its inception in 2011. The inaugural year witnessed an overwhelming response from 127 countries, with over 5,000 entries, generating significant media interest and support. The recognition and accolades extended to the shortlisted teachers have been monumental, with influential figures like Pope Francis, Prince William, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates endorsing and celebrating the invaluable work of educators.
Notably, the momentum of the Global Teacher Prize has surged exponentially. In 2021, the prize garnered over 8,000 applications and nominations, underscoring its growing influence and reach across the globe. Furthermore, the prize’s success has inspired over 40 National Teacher Prizes, a testament to its far-reaching impact in recognizing and honoring teachers at the country level.
The Global Teacher Prize isn’t just about the monetary reward; it’s about instilling pride, dignity, and value in a profession that plays a vital role in sculpting the future of our societies. The prize serves as a catalyst for change, championing the crucial significance of educators and their contributions towards a better, more informed, and enlightened world.
As the Global Teacher Prize continues to gain momentum and celebrate the exceptional efforts of teachers worldwide, it acts as a catalyst for a much-needed transformation in the perception of the teaching profession, recognizing its pivotal role in building a brighter future for generations to come.
Congratulations to all of this year’s finalists!
The eighth Global Teacher Prize Ceremony will take place on the November 8th, 2023 during the 42nd session of UNESCO’s General Conference.
Here are the top 10 finalists and a spotlight on teachers that hail from Canada, the UK, and the US.
Top 10 Finalists 2023
- Annie Ohana, Canada
- Artur Proidakov, Ukraine
- Deep Narayan Nayak, India
- Eric Asomani Asante, Ghana
- Geisha Bonilla Cortes, Chile
- Mariette Wheeler, South Africa
- Melissa Tracy, USA
- Nicolas Gaube, France
- Shafina Vohra, United Kingdom
- Sister Zeph, Pakistan
Annie Ohana, BC, Canada
Annie Ohana, based at LA Matheson Secondary School in British Columbia, is a dedicated educator and anti-oppression specialist with a background in social justice, law, humanities, and French. Her commitment to social transformation through education stems from her own experiences with racism in the schooling system, inspiring her to create a learning environment that empowers marginalized communities. By championing liberator pedagogy and advocating for the voices of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), she has cultivated a ‘no walls’ classroom approach, taking students into the community for experiential learning, resulting in increased graduation rates for Indigenous students and heightened student engagement in social sciences.
Annie’s efforts extend beyond the classroom as she founded Mustang Justice, a youth service leadership group, and collaborates with various organizations to foster social justice events and mentorship programs. Her interdisciplinary teaching methods incorporate Indigenous perspectives in subjects like math and science and have led to internationally recognized curricula on topics like the Israel-Palestine Conflict and anti-poverty initiatives. Her exceptional work has earned her numerous accolades, including the 2023 Humanitarian of the Year from the DMS Society and the BCTF Top Social Justice Award for her lifetime achievements in social justice.
Shafina Vohra, London, United Kingdom
Shafina’s journey to becoming an exceptional teacher was marked by significant adversity, including a severe car accident that resulted in multiple fractures and the loss of her father. Despite enduring surgeries and learning to walk again, she ventured into teaching psychology at a university, a path that she embraced after receiving a standing ovation in her first classroom. Teaching at a school in London’s Newham area, she focuses on supporting students facing challenges due to deprivation, mental health issues, and neurodiversity concerns.
Her innovative teaching method, using LEGO to engage students, evolved into a program reaching over 8,000 individuals, fostering skills in design engineering and problem-solving related to real-world issues like climate change. This approach garnered attention globally, leading Shafina to travel, speak at universities, and collaborate with education authorities. If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, she aims to expand her LEGO-based program, creating inclusive kits to cater to diverse learners and further her research in STEM education. Shafina also plans to establish a charity to support underprivileged communities in gaining STEM skills.
Melissa Tracy, Delaware, USA
Melissa’s teaching journey was ignited by experiences in Thailand and Peru, where she witnessed the transformative power of education. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, she taught in New Orleans, providing stability and academic tools to students who had lost everything. Now teaching at Odyssey Charter School, she employs innovative approaches such as a hydroponic lab to engage students in food studies, empowering them to understand the importance of healthy eating and address gender imbalances in agriculture.
Her commitment to education has earned her several awards, and she continues her own learning through seminars and pursuing a second master’s degree in U.S. history on a full scholarship. If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, Melissa plans to use the funding to expand hydroponic farming initiatives in Delaware, aiming to empower students as food justice advocates and provide access to healthy produce on a larger scale nationally within the next decade.