World’s top teacher to win $1m prize in new competition

World’s top teacher to win $1m prize in new competition


By Sean Coughlan

BBC News education correspondent

A competition to find the world’s best teacher is to be launched next year, with a prize of $1m (£620,000).

It has been announced by the Varkey Gems Foundation and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, United Arab Emirates vice-president and ruler of Dubai.

The foundation is the charitable arm of an international chain of private schools, which recently published a report into teacher status.

Teachers are the “real agents of change” said Sheikh Al Maktoum.

Details of the competition are expected to be announced early next year – with nominations to be opened at the Global Education and Skills Forum to be held in Dubai in March.

There will be nominations from individual countries and then an international judging process.

Teacher status

The panel of judges will include “former leaders from around the world and prominent members of the community” along with education experts and students.

Former US president Bill Clinton is honorary chairman of the foundation.

The prize, funded by the Varkey Gems Foundation, is intended to recognise the importance of the teaching profession in the same way as the Nobel prize recognises achievement in other fields.

A research project commissioned by the foundation found wide variations in the amount of respect accorded to teachers in different countries.

This index of teacher status found that China held teachers in the highest esteem.

The prize will be intended to raise the profile and public appreciation of teaching.

“We want to promote teachers as stars and to support the quality of education to highlight the enormous impact teachers have on our lives,” said Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey GEMS Foundation.

“To support education is to support human progress and valuing teachers is to value the real agents of change in society,” said Sheikh Al Maktoum.

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