African pair in contention for global teacher award


Protea Heights Academy science teacher, Marriette Wheeler

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – SOUTH African Marriette Wheeler and Eric Asomani Asante have been named in the top ten of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2023.

This is a major feat considering initially, over 7 000 nominations and applications were received from 130 countries when entries opened in May.

Wheeler, a science teacher at Protea Heights Academy in Cape Town, and Asante, an ICT teacher at Naylor SDA Basic School in Tema, have been nominated alongside educators from Canada (two teachers), France, India, Pakistan, Ukraine, United Kingdom and United States.

Now in its eighth year, the US$1 million Global Teacher Prize is the largest prize of its kind. The winner will be announced on November 8.

It was set up to recognise 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.

Wheeler first trained as a biological scientist, her career has enabled her to combine her passions of biological research and teaching.

Her teaching approach is lauded for emphasizing the simplest possible explanation of material.

As a result of her imaginative and engaging approach to teaching, all of her Grade 12 Life Science students have passed the class and their senior year. She also runs science clubs and exhibitions. Outside the classroom, Wheeler makes monthly record broadcasts on marine life for a local radio station, listened to by around 400 000 people.

In 2021, she was named National Best Teacher and represented South Africa at the virtual celebration of the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation World Teacher’s Day.

A citation hails Asante as having faced different challenges in school situated in a coastal community where children go fishing on Tuesdays and Fridays, thereby absent from school.

The school faces a lack of adequate computers to facilitate ICT lessons but as an IT specialist, he solved this by connecting one computer system to 30 pupils’ monitors.

A website developer, he has resolved lack of internet connectivity by creating an offline website that enables him to teach internet topics in the absence of the connectivity.

Dr Tariq Al Gurg, Chief Executive Officer and Vice-Chairman of Dubai Cares, noted teaching is not only about sharing knowledge but includes guiding children and youth towards a path of lifelong learning, empowering them to make an impact within their communities and countries.

“We congratulate the teachers who have earned a place in the top 10 list of the Global Teacher Prize 202,” Gurg said.

Dubai Cares is a supporter of the competition.

The prize is open to working teachers who teach children that are in compulsory schooling or are between the ages of five and 18.

Teachers who teach children age 4+ in an Early Years government-recognised curriculum are also eligible, as are teachers who teach on a part-time basis and teachers of online courses.

– CAJ News




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