KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 13 — A special needs teacher in Kelantan is shortlisted for the US$1 million (RM4.07 million) Global Teacher Prize to be awarded next year, the second time Malaysians have been in the running for the honour.
KA Razhiyah, who is listed as a teacher based at SK Panji in Kota Baru, Kelantan, is up against 49 other educators from around the world for the prestigious award.
Razhiyah started as a teacher in 1985, before she began working with special needs students six years later and decided that this was her calling.
“My special kids may lack cognitive abilities, and their intelligence level is not as high as others. But, those special kids have a hidden talent that not many people realise.
“A uniqueness in each one of them. It is a teacher’s responsibility to explore and develop it so they can live in equality and dignity,” she said on her nomination page.
According to GTP, Razhiyah was credited with developing special techniques and treatments to encourage special needs students to learn, even introducing them to spa treatments to give them a glimpse of vocational training.
The “Teratak Spa” technique was eventually adopted by the Education Ministry last year as a benchmark for special needs education nationwide.
Before Razhiyah's shortlisting for next year's prize, fellow Malaysians Noorjahan Sultan and Vanesri Kasi had also been among the top 50 finalists for the 2016 edition of the Global Teacher Prize, which was eventually won by Hanan Al Hroub from Palestine.
Malaysia was not represented in this year's edition won by Canada's Maggie MacDonnell.
The annual award confers a US$1 million prize on “an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession,” according to the Global Teacher Prize website.
The prize is awarded by the Varkey Foundation, whose patron is Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Emir of Dubai.