Bill Gates announces Global Teacher Prize finalists
Bill Gates, Co-Chair of Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, attends the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland January 25, 2018. Source: Reuters/Denis Balibouse

Finalists for the prestigious Global Teacher Prize organised by the London-based Varkey Foundation have officially been announced.

The Top 10 Finalists are educators from South Africa, Australia, Brazil, United States, the Philippines, Belgium, Colombia, Turkey, Norway and the UK. The eventual winner of the Global Teacher Prize will be given $1 million in prize money.

Microsoft founder and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates announced the Top 10 Finalists on Wednesday, stating that “when you think about what drives progress and improvement in the world, education is a master switch – one that opens up all sorts of opportunities.”

“Research has shown that having a great teacher can be the most important factor that determines whether students get a great education,” said the founder of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which invests heavily in education.

The finalists were chosen from more than 30,000 applicants and nominees in 173 countries.

“Finalists were selected based on a rigorous set of criteria including their proven effectiveness in inspiring students and helping them learn,” said Gates.

“These teachers are leaders who’ve innovated in the classroom and mentored their colleagues.

“They’ve demonstrated the kind of collaboration … that can give all students the opportunity to get a great education.”

Among the finalists are Marjorie Brown, history teacher Roedean School in Johannesburg, South Africa and Nurten Akkuş, a teacher at Ayvacık Pre-School in a poor country of Turkey.

Akkuş has pioneered for her students the project “Daddy, Tell Me A Story”, which encourages fathers’ participation in education – now making waves across all of Turkey.

Another of those in the Top 10 is Eddie Woo – head mathematics teacher at Cherrybrook Technology High School in western Sydney who was also recently recognised as Australia’s Local Hero for 2018.

With his innovative mode of teaching maths he now boasts more than 170,000 subscribers on ‘Wootube’, the YouTube channel he created back in 2012 to provide classes for a student sick with cancer unable to attend school.

“Lack of education is a major factor behind many of the social, political, economic and health issues faced by the world today,” says the awarding committee. “We believe education has the power to reduce poverty, prejudice and conflict.”

Last year’s winner of the prize was Maggie McDonnell, a teacher working in a remote Inuit village in the Canadian Arctic.

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