London, Dec 9: Three teachers from India have made it to the top 50 exceptional teachers shortlisted for a new USD 1 million Global Teacher Prize. The teachers, two from Gujarat and one from West Bengal, were selected from nearly 5,000 nominations from 127 countries for the Varkey GEMS Foundation Global Teacher Prize, instituted by a UAE-based NRI educationist.
The Indian teachers among the global top 50 include Kiran Bir Sethi, who teaches at the Riverside School in Ahmedabad; Hira Prasad, who is from Birla High School Junior Section in Kolkata, and Bijal Damani of S N Kansagra School (The Galaxy Education System) in Rajkot.
The winner of the prize, created to recognise an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession, will be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on March 16, 2015. [Bangalore University lecturers don't work]
"The thousands of applications we received from all around the world is a testimony to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives. We introduced the prize this year in order to return teachers to their rightful position as the one of the most respected professions in society," said India-born Sunny Varkey, founder of the UAE-based Varkey GEMS Foundation.
"The prize is not only about money; it's also about unearthing thousands of stories of inspiration as the many applications prove," he added. [Over 7,500 vacant teacher posts in Kendriya Vidyalayas]
The prize, one of the largest of its kind, is open to school teachers across the world. Applicants are judged on how they open up their pupil's minds, how much they contribute to the community, and how much they encourage others to become teachers.
The top 50 were shortlisted from over 5,000 nominations and 1,300 final applications from 127 countries from around the world, including the US, UK, Italy, Kenya, Uganda, India, Afghanistan, Australia, Argentina Mexico and Jordan. Sethi set up the Riverside School in Ahmedabad around the "Design Thinking" method of teaching.
This focuses on encouraging students to understand empathetically, not just intellectually. Prasad, a mathematics teacher from Kolkata, has been recognised for introducing an integrated approach to teaching the subject.
Damani, the third shortlisted Indian teacher, teaches commerce to senior students through a unique Project Galaxy Bazaar - a social entrepreneurship project that helps students learn the tricks of the business. [Delhi University to send teachers abroad for Masters courses]
Oscar-winning actor Kevin Spacey, who sits on the Global Teacher Prize Academy panel 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." The 50 shortlisted teachers have now been judged by a committee of the final 10 candidates to be announced in February 2015.