Global Teacher Prize 2020 : Top 10 Finalists

The award is expected to be announced on December 3 at a virtual ceremony in London due to the pandemic.

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Top 6 finalists for Global Teacher Prize 2020
Carlo Mazzone (top left), Jamie Frost (top middle), Ranjitsinh Disale (right top), Olasunkanmi Opeifa (left bottom), Leah Juelke (center) and Samuel Isaiah (right bottom). Image : collected

A final shortlist of top 10 persons for the Global Teacher Prize 2020 has been made out of a long list of 50 consisted of teachers from every corners of the globe.

The list includes Malaysia’s Samuel Isaiah, Ranjitsinh Disale (India), Olasunkanmi Opeifa (Nigeria), Carlo Mazzone (Italy), Jamie Frost (UK), Mokhudu Machaba (South Africa), Leah Juelke (USA) and Yun Jeong-hyun (South Korea).

This year the prize is expected to be announced on December 3 at a virtual ceremony in London due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.

It will be hosted by English comedian, actor, writer and presenter Stephen Fry from the Natural History Museum in London.

The winner of the Global Teacher Prize will get US$1 million which is provided over a period of 10 years.

To note, applications and nominations for the 2021 Prize, provided by the Varkey Foundation, will open online in January 2021.

For details on the future competition, one can keep an eye on the official website at

According to the official website, the Global Teacher Prize serves to underline the importance of educators and the fact that, throughout the world, their efforts deserve to be recognized and celebrated. It seeks to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them.

Brief Introduction On 8 Shortlisted Teachers :  

Carlo Mazzone :  He teaches students at ITI G. B. B. Lucarelli in Benevento, Italy. He comes from an educational family: his father was a headmaster, and his mother and sister were both teachers.

With the Global Teacher Prize fund, Carlo would expand the award-winning work of a student company set up in his school last year to help farmers co-ordinate supply, guarantee livestock traceability, and reduce time costs. With extra funding, this tool could be scaled up and developed to grow beyond local use, potentially enabling fully digitized farms and 100% traceability of the country’s cattle. In addition, Carlo would use some funds to help students in his school who encounter social and economic obstacles to their academic achievement.

Jamie Frost : He has been teaching for the last eight years at Tiffin School, Kingston-Upon-Thames, UK. Jamie has also created and run a hugely influential and groundbreaking website for math tuition – DrFrostMaths.
Jamie was a successful student at Oxford University, winning the Microsoft Research Prize for best undergraduate dissertation and going on to study for a PhD in Computer Science.

Leah Juelke :  Leah now works at Fargo South High School in Fargo, North Dakota, USA in one of the largest English Language high school programs in THE state. As a resettlement city, the majority of her students are refugees, who come from camps and war-torn countries with interrupted formal education, trauma and little to no English fluency.
Interestingly, Leah’s journey towards becoming a teacher started with her friendship with a family of refugees from Sudan when she was a child.

Mokhudu Machaba : Mokhudu teaches at Ngwanamago Primary School, Polokwane, Limpopo, South Africa.  She faced many childhood challenges on the road to achieving her own education. Her school was seven or eight kilometres away from home, and getting there involved crossing a river.

More obstacles followed in between. It took Mokhudu five years to get a job as a teacher because South Africa had so many qualified teachers looking for work at the time. As the eldest person in the family able to work, she had to take care of her siblings by working as a street vendor. When she finally got a teaching post it was 75 kilometres from the family’s home, but when Mokhudu was finally able to move and live near the school, the time and money she saved allowed her to be productive for the first time.

Olasunkanmi Opeifa : He currently works at Government Day Secondary School Karu, Abuja, Nigeria.
Olasunkanmi decided to become a teacher at a very young age of eight years old, and has never wavered in his choice – despite teachers having low status in Nigeria. As a student at Lagos State University, he volunteered as a teacher in a free tutorial centre that prepared underprivileged students for secondary school examinations and university entrance.
After graduation, he served for a year in a very remote part of the country, Koma, Adamawa, as the only English teacher in a village school of over 200 students. There, he helped build the school’s first ever library.
In 2012, Olasunkanmi moved to Government Day Secondary School Karu, a school in a semi-rural area of Abuja serving children of low-income earners in the civil service, market traders and artisans.

Ranjitsinh Disale :   Ranjitsinh is an Indian who now teaches at Zilla Parishad Primary School, Paritewadi, Maharashtra.
He initially wanted to be an IT engineer, but after engineering college did not work out as he anticipated, his father suggesting teacher training as an alternative. Initially hesitant, Ranjitsinh’s time in teacher training college was life-changing. He saw that teachers are the real change-makers in the world, and decided to become one.
If he wins the Global Teacher Prize, Ranjitsinh would want to share 50 per cent of the prize money with the remaining nine teachers from the 10 Global Teacher Prize finalists.

Jeong-hyun Yun:  He now does teaching Suncheon Technical High School, Jeollanam-do, South Korea.

Jeong-hyun has been a technical teacher for 28 years – 27 of which have been spent in farming and fishing villages. This is a challenging teaching environment, as students at high schools in these areas sometimes have poor basic education, a sense of defeat about their prospects, and a resultant lack of motivation. Many are from socially vulnerable and disadvantaged families on low incomes: their health may be poor and any special educational needs are often unrecognized. In order to contribute towards their families’ living and school expenses, many students are also working part-time jobs after school.
Jeong-hyun has dealt with these challenges in a number of productive ways.

Samuel Isaiah :  Samuel is a Malaysian national who now works at Sekolah Kebangsaan Runchang school, Muadzam Shah, Pahang, Malaysia.

After completing bachelor’s degree in 2011, Samuel hoped to serve in an elite urban school with the best facilities and environment – somewhere he could implement his educational ideas and start a great career. However, he was deployed to a rural primary school for indigenous children, where, on his first day, another teacher told him: “Samuel, you don’t have to do much, they’re just Orang Asli [indigenous children]”. This was an attitude that Samuel would spend years fighting against.

Samuel has been rewarded with the Best Teacher Award at the ASEAN-ELT Conference (2018), Best Innovative Teacher (2018, presented by the Prime Minister of Malaysia), the Star Golden Hearts Award (2019) and the National Hero Teacher Award (2019).

If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, he would use the funds to upgrade the school’s musical instruments, get better tech and create more 21st-century learning classrooms.  Source : Varkey Foundation


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