We hope to return teaching to its rightful position as a respected profession in society, says Vikas Pota, CEO, Varkey GEMS Foundation, in an exclusive interview with Patricia Mascarenhas.
1. What is the current status of the teaching industry?
Last November we published the Global Teacher Status Index that stated that there were significant differences between the status of teachers worldwide. In two-thirds of countries, the status of teachers was judged to be most similar to that of social workers. Only in China did people rank teachers as having a similar status to doctors. The survey also found that in many countries – including Japan, Brazil, Germany, France, and Italy between a third and half of parents would not encourage their children from entering the teaching profession.
2. What is the idea behind the Global Teacher Prize?
The idea is to draw attention to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives. This prize is not just about money. It’s about unearthing thousands of stories of courage and inspiration. We want to inspire children from far-flung villages, towns and cities around the world to say ‘I want that prize!’ How many kids say they want to be a reality TV star? Let’s get them aiming to be the greatest teacher in the world”
3. Who can apply?
It is open to currently working teachers who teach children that are in compulsory schooling, or are below the age of eighteen. Head-teachers with teaching responsibilities are also eligible to apply. It is open to teachers in every kind of school and, subject to local laws, in every country in the world. The closing date for applications will be August 31, 2014, and the winner will be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum 2015 in Dubai next spring.
4. What is the procedure?
The public can nominate a teacher, or teachers can apply themselves by filling an application form at globalteacherprize.com. If teachers are being nominated, the person nominating them will write a brief description online explaining why. The teacher being nominated will then be sent an email letting them know they’ve been nominated and inviting them to apply for the prize. Applicants can apply in English, and from May onwards, in Mandarin, Arabic, French, Spanish and Portuguese. To join the conversation online follow #TeacherPrize on: www.twitter.com/TeacherPrize and www.facebook.com/TeacherPrize
5. What are the parameters?
Teachers who are applying will have to provide references from their current supervisor and up to two additional references. These can include video testimonials about their work in the classroom and beyond, it can come from pupils, colleagues, head-teachers as well as members of the wider community.
6. How will they be judged?
Applications will be judged by a prize committee, who will meet this October to choose a shortlist of ten candidates. A winner will be chosen from these ten finalists in November 2014 by the Global Teacher Prize Academy made up of head-teachers, educational experts, commentators, journalists, public officials, tech entrepreneurs, company directors and scientists from around the world.
7. What will they win? What are the conditions?
The winner will be paid a million dollar prize money in equal instalments over ten years, and the Varkey GEMS Foundation will provide the winner with financial counselling. Without compromising their work in the classroom, the winner will be asked to serve as a global ambassador for the foundation, attending public events and speaking in public forums about improving the prestige of the teaching profession. A condition of winning the prize is that the winner remains as a classroom teacher for at least five years.
8. Advice to aspirants?
This is your chance to shine. If you feel you have made a valuable contribution to the teaching profession then apply. Your application, your story matters.This prize is not just about finding one individual; it is also about unearthing the thousands of heroic stories of teachers battling against the odds to make a difference. The more stories that are written and talked about the greater the chance of raising the status of this professions.