Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 9 December 2019

Dh8 million up for grabs for best teachers in the Middle East

One teacher from each of the eight participating countries will walk away with Dh1 million prize

Hussein Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, announces the expansion of the Mohamed bin Zayed Award for Best GCC Teacher on Sunday. Victor Besa / The National
Hussein Al Hammadi, Minister of Education, announces the expansion of the Mohamed bin Zayed Award for Best GCC Teacher on Sunday. Victor Besa / The National

An annual award that rewards the best teachers in the Gulf with a Dh1 million prize will be expanded to include eight countries across the Middle East.

On Sunday, the Ministry of Education said the Mohamed bin Zayed Award for Best GCC Teacher will now have a total prize fund of Dh8 million and increase the number of participating countries by two.

Open to government schools and private schools that follow the Ministry of Education curriculum, one teacher from each country will walk away with a Dh1 million prize.

The Award, in its third year, aims to empower both local and expatriate teachers in the region.

“We want to empower future generations with the best education and this Award encourages teachers to constantly upskill and be forward-thinkers.”

Two years ago, when Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, launched the award, it was open to six countries — including Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. But next year, Egypt and Jordan will be included.

Last year's winner was an Emirati teacher who spent Dh300,000 of his own money to build science laboratories for his pupils. Dr Rashed Ali Hashem, who still teaches PE at the Al Moatasem Public School for boys in Baniyas, Abu Dhabi, was the first from the UAE to win the prize. He beat off stiff competition from more than 1,000 entries. And last month, Arabic teacher, Laila Alyammahi, was named the best teacher in the Gulf region for the second round of the award.

On receiving the award, Ms Alyammahi, who teaches at the Murbah Secondary School for Girls in Fujairah, said the classical Arabic language "is fading away among the new generations" and it is up to teachers to find solutions to keep it alive.

We want to empower future generations with the best education and this Award encourages teachers to constantly upskill and be forward-thinkers

Hussein Al Hammadi, Minister of Education

This year, Mr Al Hammadi said the Ministry is keen to see teachers come forward who "proactively bring the values of modern day learning practices" to the classroom.

“The education system is constantly changing and good teachers adapt to that change,” he said.

“This year, we have put a big focus on those who showcase an active interest in teaching pupils the importance of sustainability as that is a huge global discussion right now.

“Those who branch out and engage children in fields like Artificial Intelligence and robotics will also grab our attention.”

Prize winners will be free to spend the Dh1 million prize as they like, however, the money will be paid out over a five-year period, with each teacher receiving Dh200,000 a year.

“We do it in this way because we want the teacher to maintain a high level of performance in the classroom,” Dr Hamad Al Darmaki, Secretary General at the Ministry told The National.

“We want the teacher to continue to inspire their colleagues and pupils after the award ends. If their performance dips we will put a hold on the funds until they reach that high level again.”

The Ministry will be in regular contact with the school boards to assess the teachers’ performance following the awarding ceremony.

In the UAE, more than 23,000 teachers follow the Ministry of Education curriculum at 639 schools.

There are five main criteria considered for the award: professional leadership, sustainable development and learning, excellence in achievement, innovation and creativity, and positive citizenship and national loyalty.

Applications are now open for the MBZ Award for Best GCC Teachers. A total of 25 teachers from each country will be shortlisted for the prize before the winner is announced.

Those interested can self-nominate for the award on the website.

Applications close in March 2020 and the final award ceremony will be held in October 2020.

Updated: November 24, 2019 04:20 PM

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