The Varkey GEMS Foundation (VGF) on Tuesday launched a $1 million prize recognising the world’s greatest teacher, under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The prize will award $1 million to a teacher chosen from among candidates nominated by individual nations around the world and judged by an international jury committee. The process will be audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers. The prize will effectively become the "Nobel Prize" of education emanating from the UAE.
Full details about the prize will be released in 90 days and nominations for the prize will formally open at the Global Education and Skills Forum in March, VGF said.
Sheikh Mohammed commented on the initiative by businessman Sunny Varkey saying, "I know many businessmen; some of them think the same, and some of them think of themselves, then there are those looking for the good of humanity," noting that to support education is to support human progress and valuing teachers is to value the real agents of change in society.
He added, "We are proud of our businessmen, who are thinking of humanity and are globally minded. Varkey’s effort is exceptional and exemplary. We hope other business leaders follow his example."
Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey GEMS Foundation, an arm of GEMS Education, said "We learned from Sheikh Mohammed that a true leader is able to inspire so many to consider humanity and I am moved by His Highness’s interest in science and education , whether locally or globally, and in particular in the Dubai model of supporting education as a way of helping eradicate poverty. All this attention to education encouraged us to propose the award to him to embrace it and nurture it."
"It is no surprise that the His Highness never hesitated with his sponsorship and even encouraged us to ask him for help with requests or facilities at any time to ensure the success of the prize," Varkey said.
He added, "Our goal for this award is to emulate the Nobel Prizes, but in the field of education. We will endeavour to find the greatest teacher in the world starting in March 2014 at the Global Education and Skills Forum which will be held in Dubai, chaired by former US President Bill Clinton."
Varkey noted that Sheikh Mohammed has long held the importance of education and teachers up high, inspiring the idea of celebrating the role and raising the status of teachers, not just locally but also globally.
Varkey added that a panel of judges made up of former leaders from around the world, and prominent members of the community, as well as education experts and students, will judge each candidate to arrive at the winner. The voting process and the counting of the votes will be audited by the PriceWaterhouseCoopers, which will ensure neutrality and success of the process.
Attends ceremony honouring Khalfan Al Roumi
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai attended on Tuesday a ceremony hosted by the Government of Dubai Media Office at the Meydan Hotel to celebrate the safe return of Khalfan Mohammed Al Roumi,Chairman of the Arab Journalism Award, after medical treatment abroad.
The ceremony was also attended by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Lt General Musabah Rashid Al Fattan, Director of the Dubai Ruler's Office, Abdul Ghafar Hussein, Chairman of the Emirates Human Rights Association and Khalifa Saeed Sulaiman, Director of Dubai Protocol and Hospitality Department.
Mona Al Marri, Director General of the Government of Dubai Media Office welcomed Sheikh Mohammed and thanked him for patronising the Arab Media Award.
She also welcomed Al Roumi's safe return to the UAE.
Dr Abdullah Omran Taryam, Chairman of Dar Al Khaleej for Press, Printing and Publishing expressed appreciation to Sheikh Mohammed for honouring Al Roumi.
He said the Arab Journalism Award came as a result of Sheikh Mohammed's vision.
Al Roumi expressed gratitude to Sheikh Mohammed and praised his initiatives for creativity, innovation and excellence, particularly in the intellectual and media fields.
Speaking at the ceremony, Sheikh Mohammed said: "Since the early days of federation, and during the era of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the late Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum, I have known Khalfan Al Roumi who has always been a true patriot, like the late Taryam Omran Taryam.
“I also recall here Ahmed Khalifa Al Suwaidi, who had played a vital role in the federation."
Sheikh Mohammed congratulated Khalfan Al Roumi on his safe return and wished him good health.
He also wished further success to the Arab Journalism Award under Al Roumi's chairmanship.