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Nigerian teacher among top 50 finalists for 2020 $1m Global Teacher Prize

In recognition of his outstanding contribution to the teaching profession, Opeifa Olasunkanmi, an English teacher from Government Day Secondary School, Karu, Abuja Nigeria, has been named among the top 50 shortlists for the US$1million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize in partnership with UNESCO in 2020.

The Global Teacher Prize, now in its sixth year, 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.

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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.

With 10 years to go to meet UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 – providing a quality education for every child – the Global Teacher Prize has partnered with UNESCO to ensure teachers are right at the top of governments’ agendas.

Olasunkanmi made the shortlist from over 12,000 nominations and applications from over 140 countries around the world.

Olasunkanmi, winner of the 2018 Maltina Teacher of the Year Award as the best teacher in Nigeria, has a reputation for innovation and going out of his way to ensure his students receive the best possible tuition, often consulted by other staff on the latest 21st Century learning skills, as he uses the flipped classroom model for teaching essay writing, Google Forms or Microsoft Forms for assessment, online videos and e-past questions.

To stimulate his students he has been known to use edutainment/fun-based learning for teaching English language concepts, for example, linking essay writing with popular dance steps and, to demonstrate phonology and grammar, he has even taken to rapping and hip-hop songs.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize, while congratulating Olasunkanmi, for reaching the final 50, said he hoped Olasunkanmi’s  story inspires those looking to enter the teaching profession and highlights the incredible work teachers do all over the world every day.

According to him, “Our recent Global Teacher Status Index finally gives academic proof to something that we’ve always instinctively known: the link between the status of teachers in society and the performance of children in school.  Now we can say beyond doubt that respecting teachers isn’t only an important moral duty – it’s essential for a country’s educational outcomes.

“We are also proud to partner with UNESCO as we all must now work together to do whatever it takes to give every child their birth right: a great education. Our generation will not be forgiven if we continue to deny the lifeblood of education to those in the next,” Varkey said.

The top 50 shortlisted teachers are narrowed down to ten finalist teachers by a Prize Committee, with that result announced in June 2020. The winner will then be chosen from these ten finalists by the Global Teacher Prize Academy. All ten finalists will be invited to London for the Award ceremony at the Natural History Museum on Monday 12 October 2020, where the winner will be announced live on stage.

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