More than 20 countries have launched their own National Teacher Prizes, inspired by the success of Global Teacher Prize. File pix by ZAIN AHMED.

KUALA LUMPUR: The success of the Varkey Foundation’s US$1milion (RM4.4 million) Global Teacher Prize has inspired over 20 countries to launch their own National Teacher Prizes.

This is to underline the importance of educators in their respective countries and acknowledge the impacts of the best teachers on their students and the community.

Colombia was the first country to start its own prize, with the backing and support of the Varkey Foundation.

Last year, Argentina, Italy, Liberia, Palestine, Nepal and Uganda announced that they would set up their own teacher prizes at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) 2016.

The new countries announced at the GESF 2017 were Albania, Algeria, Chile, Czech Republic, Georgia, Iraq, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Pakistan, Portugal, Somalia, Somalia Land Coalition, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, and Yemen.

GESF 2017, a Varkey Foundation initiative, was held at The Atlantis, Dubai, from March 18 to 19, with leading figures from the public, private and social sectors in attendance.

Widely referred to as ‘the Davos of Education’, the GESF debates new ways for education to transform our world.

Commenting on the National Teacher Prizes, Varkey Foundation chief executive Vikas Pota said: “When we embarked on this journey we hoped there might be national spin-offs of the Global Teacher Prize, independent from us but with a shared set of values and close co-operation to make them a success.

“But we couldn’t have dreamt that within the space of three years we would have over 20 national teacher prizes either set up or are in the process of being set up.

“It is really remarkable, a testament to governments around the world taking on board the message that we must do all we can to elevate the status of teachers.

“It is wonderful to see that the Global Teacher Prize is now being adapted for local needs at an even deeper level in individual countries,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

Vikas said the Global Teacher Prize was set up to enhance the respect, reward and celebration of teachers around the world.

“It does this by shining a spotlight on great teachers and sharing their remarkable stories.

“Ultimately we wanted to inspire the best possible candidates to join the teaching profession, and we are thrilled that these shared goals are now successfully taking root in individual countries,” he added.

Canadian school teacher Maggie MacDonnell, recognised for her work in rural Salluit, Quebec was named the winner of the Global Teacher Prize 2017 on Sunday.

This is the third year of the prize. In its inaugural year, it was won by Nancie Atwell, a teacher from the United States. Last year, Palestinian teacher Hanan Al Hroub bagged the award.

A teacher from Sabah, Mohd Sirhajwan Idek, 29, of Keningau Vocational College made the country proud by being the only Malaysian to have made it to the Top 50 of the prestigious award this year.

In 2015, Madenjit Singh, a teacher with the Science of Life Studies 24/7 organisation, under the Grassroots Development Institute, in Malaysia was shortlisted as a Top 10 finalist. Also nominated that year was Yasmin Noorul Amin of La Salle Petaling Jaya.

Last year, Noorjahan Sultan of SK Indera Mahkota Utama in Kuantan, Pahang, and Vanesri Kasi of SJK (T) Jalan Khalidi in Muar, Johor made it to the Top 50.

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