Mirela Tanc, a language and literature teacher at “Oltea Doamna” Gymnasium School, Oradea, Romania, has been included in the top 50 shortlist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2021 in partnership with UNESCO. Now in its seventh year, the US$1 million Global Teacher Prize is the largest prize of its kind.
Mirela, shortlisted for the Global Teacher Prize 2021, was selected from over 8,000 nominations and applications from 121 countries around the world.
The Global Teacher Prize 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. 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.
This year, the Varkey Foundation launched the Chegg.org Global Student Prize, a sister award to the Global Teacher Prize, to create a powerful new platform that shines a light on the efforts of extraordinary students everywhere who are reshaping our world for the better. The winning student will receive $100,000.
Together, the Global Teacher Prize and the Global Student Prize will tell inspirational stories from both sides of education. The prizes will shine a spotlight on the great work teachers do in preparing young people for the future and the amazing promise the brightest students are showing in their learning and far beyond.
Stefania Giannini, Assistant Director General for Education at UNESCO, said:
“UNESCO is a proud partner of the Global Teacher Prize, which has done so much to highlight teachers’ transformational role in young people’s lives. Inspirational teachers and extraordinary students alike deserve recognition for their commitment to education amid the learning crisis we see today.
“If we are to rebuild a better world in the wake of COVID we must prioritise giving every child their birthright of a quality education. It is the next generation, with teachers as their guide, who will safeguard the future for us all.”
Over the last few years, Mirela Tanc, a language and literature teacher at “Oltea Doamna” Gymnasium School, Oradea, Romania, has built a reputation as an innovative teacher by integrating technology into ordinary lessons with an unprecedented degree of creativity. Although this approach has met with some resistance from school systems, it has worked wonders with students from a variety of backgrounds and generated excellent exam performances: many of Mirela’s students have gone on to study at top universities in the US, the UK and Romania. In 2020, Mirela was named World Book of Records STAR Global Teacher, and presently serves as an Ambassador for Looking@2020 and TeachSDGs. If she wins the Global Teacher Prize, she will follow the example of last year’s winner, Ranjitsinh Disale, and donate a substantial portion of the prize funds to other educators.
Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, said:
“Congratulations to Mirela for reaching the final 50. Her story clearly highlights the importance of education in tackling the great challenges ahead – from climate change to growing inequality to global pandemics. It is only by prioritising education that we can safeguard all our tomorrows. Education is the key to facing the future with confidence.”
Applications and nominations for this year’s teacher and student prizes opened on Tuesday 2 February and closed on Sunday 16 May. Teachers who applied for the Global Teacher Prize are being assessed on teaching practices, how they innovate to address local challenges, achieve demonstrable learning outcomes, impact the community beyond the classroom, help children become global citizens, improve the teaching profession and gain recognition from external bodies. The US$1m award was won last year by Indian village teacher Ranjitsinh Disale.
Following the announcement, the top 10 finalists of both the Global Teacher Prize and the Global Student Prize will be announced in October this year. The winners of both prizes will be chosen from the respective top 10 finalists by the Global Teacher Prize Academy and the Global Student Prize Academy, made up of prominent individuals. The winners are due to be announced at an awards ceremony in Paris in November.
If teachers or students were nominated, the person nominating them was asked to write a brief description online explaining why. The teacher or student being nominated was then sent an email letting them know they had been nominated and inviting them to apply for the prize. Applicants were able to apply in English, Mandarin, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian. To join the conversation online follow @TeacherPrize and @cheggdotorg.