A Kenyan teacher who was among the top 10 finalists for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize this year has highlighted the need to urgently raise teacher respect across Africa to attract the best candidates into the profession.
Mr Michael Wamaya, a dance teacher at the Spurgeons Academy Kibera, K.A.G School Kibera and in Valley View School in Mathare, also urged parents and pupils to put forward their most inspirational teachers for next year’s award on the day that nominations and applications open.
Mr Wamaya said children today are faced with a World in total flux—from the rise of populism, the threat of terrorism, growing inequality, a refugee crisis, rapid technological change and a growing environmental threat.
“It is difficult to predict what will happen in the next six days, let alone the next six months or years.
“Current World events baffle most adults but it is today’s children that will live with the after effects. It is this generation of children that will be tested to the limit to find the solutions to these problems,” said Mr Wamaya.
He observed that there was need for teachers to foster great minds in order to tackle the World’s problems.
“If teachers aren’t respected, children won’t listen to them, parents won’t back them, and the most talented individuals will continue to disregard teaching as a fulfilling career option.
“Over time, this will weaken teaching, damage learning opportunities for millions and ultimately weaken society as uninformed choices can give way to populism and extremism,” he explained.
He went on: “That is why I urge children and parents to nominate their favourite teachers for the Global Teacher Prize 2018 in order to help celebrate the work of our greatest teachers throughout the continent.”
As a dance instructor, he combines the teaching of dance skills with social skills.
His programme explores their individual human potential and creativity in a much broader sense: who they are, what they think and believe, what they want for their futures, which has brought them a lot of confidence and self-esteem.
Attending the classes has also turned around dropout rates and teenage pregnancy rates for his students.
Nominations are open for the Sh100 million award, which is now in its fourth year and the largest prize of its kind in education.
Canadian teacher Maggie MacDonnell won this year’s prize in March, with the announcement being made via a link from the International Space Station at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.
The applicants for the next year’s prize will be shortlisted down to a top 50 (expected to be announced in December) and then a final Top 10 (expected to be announced in February next year).
The winner will be chosen from the 10 finalists by the Global Teacher Prize Academy made up of prominent individuals.
All 10 finalists will be flown to Dubai for an award ceremony taking place at the Global Education and Skills Forum in March 2018 where the winner will be announced live.
The prize is open to currently working teachers who teach children that are in compulsory schooling, or are between the ages of five and 18.
Teachers who teach on a part-time basis are also eligible, as are teachers of online courses. It is open to teachers in every kind of school and, subject to local laws, in every country in the World.