An Indian teacher who runs a not-for-profit school in Mumbai for girls from the city’s red light areas was named in the top 10 shortlist for a global prize for teachers on Wednesday.
Robin Chaurasiya, founder of Kranti, will compete with teachers from the U.K., U.S., Nairobi, Palestine, Japan, Finland, Australia and Pakistan to win the $1 million Global Teacher Prize 2016.
“There was a teacher behind every great artist, every great philosopher, every great scientist. However difficult life can be, teachers have always been there, behind the scenes, showing us the way forward,” said renowned scientist Prof. Stephen Hawking as he announced the top 10 in London.
“I wasn’t the easiest person to teach. I was slow to learn to read, and my handwriting was untidy. But, at the age of 14, my teacher, Dikran Tahta, showed me how to harness my energy, and encouraged me to think creatively about maths. He made me wonder. He made me curious. He opened up new worlds to me. That is what a great teacher can do,” Mr. Hawking said.
In reference to the founder of the prize, Kerala-born entrepreneur Sunny Varkey, Mr. Hawking said: “Thanks to Sunny Varkey, and the Varkey Foundation. We need great teachers to grow great minds, or we will never solve the world’s most pressing problems.”
The prize was created last year as a kind of Oscars for the teaching profession by the U.K.-based Varkey Foundation.
Ms. Chaurasiya refers to her students as krantikaries (revolutionaries), who are aged between 12 and 20 and include victims of trafficking and daughters of sex workers. They go on to become peer teachers and community leaders.
Mr. Varkey said: “I want to congratulate Robin Chaurasiya for being selected among the top 10 finalists from such a huge number of talented and dedicated teachers.”
“I hope her story will inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and also shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over India and throughout the world everyday,” Mr. Varkey said.
The top 10 have been narrowed down from 8,000 nominations and applications from 148 countries from around the world.
The prize will be announced at a ceremony in Dubai on March 13.