Africa’s teachers meet to strategize on education at Global Teacher Prize event

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Fifteen teachers from eight African nations who have all made the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize top 50 shortlist or been top 10 finalists in recent years met in Nairobi, Kenya, for their first ever summit, with the intention of sharing best practices and helping to shape and influence education policy in Africa.

Widely celebrated as among the continent’s best teachers through their success and sharing a global spotlight through the biggest education prize of its kind in the world, each of the 15 teachers hailing from Kenya, South Africa, Uganda, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Ghana and Tanzania are now members of the Varkey Teacher Ambassadors (VTA) network.

As part of this network, these acclaimed educators continue to work with the Varkey Foundation to shed light on the expertise and capacity of teachers worldwide, giving those who work on the front line of education the recognition and voice that they deserve and helping to influence policy and practice. The group of 15 convened at Sarova Stanley Hotel, Nairobi, for a high-level conference on Wednesday 18 July and Thursday 19 July to share best practices and formulate a range of initiatives.

In order to help them become better influencers and to help their voices reach the ears of governments and policy makers, teachers at the summit received advanced social media training, and were shown how to tell their stories in powerful pamphlets and videos. This will also help them reach, inspire and support more teachers, which is vital because the Varkey Foundation recognises that teachers are the most important agents of change in education. Other sessions at the forum focused on the crucial issues impacting education in Sub-Saharan Africa, not least empowering girls and driving teacher recruitment and retention. The forum and reception dinner also provided a chance for teachers to forge connections with each other and work together for their common goals.

At the end of the first day, Elias Abdi, Director-General of Kenya’s Ministry of Education addressed the delegates and a host of other outstanding teachers and education groups at a special Global Teacher Prize reception dinner. The VIP event was also attended by Mr. Nic Hailey, British High Commissioner to Kenya. It came as African teachers were urged to apply for the US$1 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019 at www.globalteacherprize.orgbefore the closing date of Sunday 9 September 2018.

Cate Noble, Chief Executive of the Varkey Foundation said: “There has never been a more important time for the voices of African teachers to be heard in the crucial debates on the future of African education. Africa is home to some of the world’s fastest growing economies and is bursting with energy and new ideas, not least here in the emerging tech hub of Nairobi. But if Africa is to realise its abundant potential, we must ensure its children are skilled for the bright future they are reaching out to grasp. These challenges can only be solved by governments listening to teachers and putting their views front and centre… We now have 200 ambassadors from more than 60 countries in the Varkey Teacher Ambassador Network, with many teaching young people facing discrimination, poverty and conflict.”

Elias Abdi, Director-General of Kenya’s Ministry of Education said in his speech:“Teachers play the critical role of moulding the character of pupils and equipping them with values, skills and knowledge needed to make them productive citizens who contribute to national building. In this sense, teachers are the principal architects of the future of a nation.” Among some of the distinguished guests also in attendance was Amb. Amina Mohamed, Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kenya, as well as Michael Wamaya, a dance teacher from Mathare, Nairobi, Kenya, who was a top 10 finalist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2017.

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