Abeer Qunaibi, a teacher at Wedad Naser Al Deen Secondary School, Hebron, Palestine, has been included in the top 50 shortlist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2017 at globalteacherprize.org. Now in its third year, the US$1 million award is the largest prize of its kind.
The Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognize 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. By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of millions of teachers all over the world.
Abeer Qunaibi was raised in a society that placed more importance on marriage than education for women. She was married young but nevertheless continued in education and obtained her bachelor’s degree in mathematical sciences. She was motivated to become a teacher by the efforts of her own teachers to help her thrive, and she sees her goal being to devise new pedagogies to cope with advances in technology. These are based on collaboration and sharing innovative thoughts. She has helped create positive associations around learning with her “Mathematics Café” initiative, aimed at creating a café-like interactive setting for learning, and her students are high achievers in exams and Mathematics Olympics competitions.
She has pursued postgraduate study and focused on setting a good example for students. Abeer was ranked fourth in the Intel-ISEF exhibition held in the USA in 2012 for her role in supervising the “Crying Plant” project; this was the first prize ever to be won by Palestine in the exhibition. She has also enhanced local and international outreach by holding Skype meetings with various students from schools across Palestine, the USA and Saudi Arabia. In 2012, Abeer was awarded the Silver Medal for innovation and creativity by the President of the State of Palestine, Mahmoud Abbas.
The top 50 have been shortlisted from over 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries from around the world. The top 50 shortlist has representatives from 37 countries and by highlighting their stories the Varkey Foundation hopes that the public will be able to join in passionate debates about the importance of teachers. The winner will be announced at theGlobal Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on Sunday 19 March 2017.
Last year, the winner of the prize was the Palestinian teacher Hanan Al-Hroub, a primary school teacher from Samiha Khalil High School, Al-Bireh, Palestine. She was announced winner in a video presented by Pope Francis.
Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said:
“We were overwhelmed by the huge support the Global Teacher Prize received this year. We intend to keep this momentum going as our journey continues to return teachers to their rightful position as one of the most respected professions in society.
“The tens of thousands of nominations and applications we received from every corner of the planet is testimony to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives.”
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, said:
“I count my teachers as among the most influential people in my life. Teachers are entrusted with nurturing the potential of the young and helping them blossom as productive and responsible members of society. It is hard to underestimate their value.
“I applaud the launch of the Global Teacher Prize, which recognizes their worth. The award is in line with my Global Education First Initiative, launched in 2012, which aims to give momentum to the worldwide movement to put every child in school, improve the quality of learning and foster global citizenship.”
The top 50 shortlisted teachers have now been judged by a Prize Committee with the final ten candidates to be announced in February 2017. The winner will then be chosen from ten finalists by a Global Teacher Prize Academy. All ten finalists will be invited to Dubai for the Award ceremony at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) on Sunday 19 March next year where the winner will be announced live.
You can find the full list of 50 teachers nominated for the 2017 prize at the Varkey foundation website.