Two Nigerians are among the 50 finalists shortlisted for the 2018 Global Teacher Prize.
The winner among them will be announced in March 2018 in Dubai and will receive $1 million prize money for being “an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession,” according to the information available on the Global Teacher Prize website.
The shortlisted Nigerian teachers are Itodo Anthony and Ayodele Odeogbola of the Gateway Excel College Otukpa, Benue State, and the Abeokuta Grammar School, Ogun State, respectively.
The prize, which is considered the ‘Nobel Prize for teaching’, is sponsored by the Vice President of the United Arab Emirate, Prime Minister and Amir of Dubai, His Highness, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum through the Varkey Foundation.
Varkey Foundation is a non-profit organisation with interest in the education of underprivileged children around the world.
“The prize serves to underline the importance of educators and the fact that, throughout the world, their efforts deserve to be recognised and celebrated,” says the organisers of the prize.
“It seeks to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them.”
The organisers said that one of the shortlisted Nigerians, Mr. Anthony, founded a community-based organisation for youths – New Frontiers Youth Forum – in May 2017 and used it to raise young leaders who in turn would act as the agent of positive change within the community.
“This October, The Forum commissioned a community library. The community had no library where students and others could study in comfort or have access to resources they could afford,” the organisers said.
“At the beginning of his career, in a small rural school in Nigeria, not many people understood why Anthony would get a masters degree from a UK university and end up teaching in a village for ‘peanuts’.
“But this was part of his mission – to elevate the teaching profession to a place of pride, to say with his own life that the profession is a noble one whose value is not tied to how much we earn. Today, the same people who mocked his decision to teach especially in a rural area are publicly celebrating his and his students’ successes.
“When he teaches in class he tries to introduce positive values from other parts of the world to broaden their view of life. When he told them that in some European countries a woman gets half the property at divorce, it shocked them, coming from a culture where gender inequality is grave and women can actually be kicked out of their husband’s homes at will.
“So he preaches the virtues of justice, institutional soundness, community service, value creation, among others that are elements from other cultures that can help create an ideal value system in Nigerian youth.”
An obviously elated Anthony reacted to his shortlisting in a post he put up on Facebook, Wednesday as an opportunity to share a platform with top teachers across the world. He based his motivation on changing narrative of Nigeria’s non-representation in the global prize.
“For me this is one of the biggest attractions of the prize, the opportunity to share a platform with over 200 of the world’s finest teachers, to learn and share best practices,” he wrote.
“Top 50 was my primary target and I achieved that. In the past three editions of this prize no Nigerian teacher made Top 50 and that was pretty unsettling for me, seeing how Kenyan teachers dominated African representation. This year we are two Nigerians, me and my friend Odeogbola Ay. I am happy we’re changing the narrative and opening the path for other Nigerian teachers,” he said.
The other Nigerian, Mr Odeogbola teaches STEM Education and Global Studies to 11 – 15- year – olds in Abeokuta Grammar School , Ogun State.
According to his bio on the website, Odeogbola is passionate about developing his learners to be future leaders and become stakeholders in their world , using collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and communication, combined with innovation and new technology to transform learning.
“ In class , he has chosen gifted students as leaders to head groups and review every learning activity – many of these have gone on to become leaders in higher education.
“Rather than teach the same thing in the same way to all, Ayodele seeks to match the different needs, potentials and learning paths of each child,” it reads.