Awards for excellence are offered in many fields today: those who further the cause of peace, push the limits of the sciences, write great books, create art and music and film, are all rewarded with international prizes.
To this field of awards could soon be added another: an international accolade for the education sector. As The National reported yesterday, a US$1 million (Dh3.7m) Nobel-style prize will be launched in Dubai next year, during the Global Education and Skills Forum by Gems, the worldwide education group based in Dubai.
Sunny Varkey, chairman of Gems said on Tuesday that the aim of the award is “to promote teachers as stars and to support the quality of education to highlight the enormous impact teachers have on our lives”.
Teaching is one of the most important jobs. It requires constant dedication, determination and a wide range of skills and qualities such as effective communication and leadership.
Teachers do more than simply teach material. The very best of the breed are agents of change, inspirational figures who nurture talent. All of us have a story to tell about a teacher who affected us strongly. The best of the profession bring history to life and put science in order. They help students reach their potential.
So any recognition of their hard work and the creation of role models is welcome. As yet, the education prize is long on intent and short on details. But it is to be hoped that the award will do more than merely offer a financial award to a profession whose best rarely seek such rewards.
What would be ideal would be for the award to seek to create and highlight role models. To show the best of teaching and the best of teachers, and then provide ways for these “stars” of the profession to spread what they have learnt. We would like to see the award winners spreading the word: being offered ways to improve the skills of ordinary teachers and spreading their knowledge; sharing their best practice and inspiring more educators to emulate them.
Teaching is deeply contextual: like nursing, it depends on a close connection, and what works in one context may not easily apply in another. Yet the best teachers will share many traits of compassion and expertise. If there is an award for teaching, we hope it will provide the same level of inspiration to teachers as they provide, day in and day out, to pupils across the world.