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Meet the 10 finalists for the $1m Global Teacher Prize 2017

Global Teacher Prize

Barriers to education, Right to education, Teachers and learning, Technology and education

The award recognises an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession and spotlights the important role teachers play in society.


Last year’s winner was an inspirational former Palestinian refugee who offers specialist care to refugee children exposed to violence.

Now 10 more amazing educators are on the shortlist for the 2017 Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize, which comes with a $1 million award.

The finalists were announced today and congratulated in a message from Prince Harry, who said: “In addition to reading, writing and arithmetic, the very best teachers go beyond the pages of textbooks to teach young people about determination, aspiration, resilience and – of course – compassion.”

Global Teacher Prize 2016 Winner Hanan Al Hroub

The Global Teacher Prize was launched in 2014 and attracts thousands of nominations each year. 

It was set up to recognise one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession – as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society.

Last year’s winner was Hanan Al Hroub, who works at Samiha Khalil Secondary School in the West Bank town of Al-Bireh. 

She encourages her students to work together and rewards positive behaviour.

The  2017 winner will be announced on March 19. Here is a look at the finalists for this year’s title.

Salima Begum Headshot Global Teacher Prize 2017

​Salima Begum (Pakistan)

Salima teaches at the Elementary College for Women in Gilgit. She has helped to make parents aware about girls’ education and its benefits. She believes classroom activities should correspond closely to real-life situations.

Salima has trained more than 7000 teachers across her province and 8000 more throughout Pakistan. If she wins, she will donate the money to a fund to support girls’ education in her country.

David Calle Gobal Teacher Prize 2017

David Calle (Spain)

David is a maths and science teacher based in Madrid. He founded Unicoos to support children’s education beyond the classroom and his videos have been viewed by more than 30 million students.

Unicoos is free to use, so if David wins he will invest the money in expanding the online platform, producing more videos in multiple languages.

Raymond Chambers Global Teacher Prize 2017 2

Raymond Chambers (United Kingdom)

Computer science graduate Ray found prepared lessons dull and uninspiring when he became a teacher. So he developed software for learning and shared the work and best practice with other teachers. Ray’s YouTube channel has had more than 250,000 hits.

If he wins Ray will use the funds to support charitable work improving computer science education in the UK and Africa.

Wemerson Da Silva Nogueira Global Teacher Prize 2017

Wemerson da Silva Nogueira (Brazil)

Science teacher Wemerson began his career in a suburb with a very high crime rate and his school had a drop-out rate of 50%. He led a social project called “Young Scientists: Designing a New Future”. 

It helped the school to rescue 90% of students from drugs and crime and is now considered the best in the city. If he wins Wemerson will use the money to create a foundation supporting the training of young teachers.

Marie Christine Ghanbari Jahromi Global Teacher Prize 2017Jpg

Marie-Christine Ghanbari Jahromi (Germany)

Marie-Christine uses action-based teaching to increase the self-esteem, motivation and empathy of her students. Her sports project has helped refugee children in Germany integrate more readily into society.

If she wins Marie-Christine will use the money to develop online services to enable mentoring and partnering between students in developed and developing nations.

Tracy Ann Hall Global Teacher Prize 2017 3

Tracy-Ann Hall (Jamaica)

Tracy-Ann went through school with undiagnosed dyslexia and left to train as an automotive technician. Training other mechanics gave her a love of teaching and she enrolled at the vocational teachers’ college in Jamaica.

In her first teaching role she transformed the performance and ambitions of boys who had been written off and started a programme for her class to feed street people. If she wins Tracy-Ann will buy resources for her school and the auto club she runs, as well as supporting various local families and children’s charities.

Maggie Mac Donnell Global Teacher Prize 2017

Maggie MacDonnell (Canada)

Maggie teaches in the harsh Canadian Arctic environment in the second northernmost Inuit community in Quebec. Her initiatives include her students running a community kitchen, attending suicide prevention training and partnering with the day care centre.

She has also created a life skills programme for girls to combat the complex gender issues in the community. If Maggie wins she will establish a non-profit to support youth engagement, culture preservation and global citizenship.

Ken Silburn Global Teacher Prize 2017

Ken Silburn (Australia)

Science teacher Ken was awarded the highest teaching honour in Australia in 2015. Many of his students have received scholarships to study science at university and he uses multimedia projects together with integration of wider issues such as environmental science and sustainability.

As a participant in NASA’s India Spaceward Bound Program, he has also delivered science workshops and training courses to Indian teachers. If he wins Ken will use the funds to devise a training programme for teachers in developing countries. 

Michael Wamaya Global Teacher Prize 2017 4

Michael Wamaya (Kenya)

Dance teacher Michael runs a ballet school in the heart of the Kibera slum in Nairobi. Many of his students have become accomplished dancers, winning scholarships to further their education.

With Michael’s tutoring and mentorship, this alternative arts project has provided a safe space for orphans and vulnerable children from the slums to grow, develop their skills and access opportunities.

Yang Boya Global Teacher Prize 2017

Boya Yang (China)

When Chinese parents move to cities for new employment opportunities, they often have to leave their children behind to be eligible for education and other services. It can be a shattering experience for many children. 

Boya has set up a centre in her school where teenage girls can seek advice from psychologists and other professionals. If she wins she will use the funds to invite local and overseas students and specialists to participate in this programme.

And here they are in action…


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