Two Malaysians in top 50 list for US$1m Global Teacher Prize 2020

Samuel Isaiah (left) taught his student to love, embrace and use technology and experience English language learning on par with urban schools. — Picture via Facebook
Samuel Isaiah (left) taught his student to love, embrace and use technology and experience English language learning on par with urban schools. — Picture via Facebook

KUALA LUMPUR, March 20 — Two Malaysians are among this year’s top 50 world contenders for the Global Teacher Prize award, a competition meant to recognise exceptional educators who have made outstanding contributions to the profession.

The first was English teacher Samuel Isaiah from Sekolah Kebangsaan Runchang in Muadzam Shah, Pahang, who was shortlisted for his outstanding work with the Orang Asli community by championing advanced learning at primary school using tablets and computers.

Isaiah’s method is fairly unique in a rural Orang Asli setting, said Varkey Foundation, the organisation behind the award. 

It noted the children at the primary school have learned to love, embrace and use technology and experience English language learning on par with urban schools.

The other, Science teacher Norhailmi Abdul Mutalib from SMK Jerlun, Ayer Hitam, Kedah, made the list for his innovative method in teaching particle physics.

Norhailmi used collaboration techniques and flipped classrooms to increase students’ performance throughout the year.  — Picture via Facebook
Norhailmi used collaboration techniques and flipped classrooms to increase students’ performance throughout the year. — Picture via Facebook

His teaching approach has included empowering his students to decide the direction of their learning and enabling them to produce creative content online through blog writing and video-making, Varkey Foundation said.

Norhailmi had also used collaboration techniques and flipped classrooms to increase students’ performance throughout the year.

The percentage of his students who scored A in science exams increased drastically from only 3.9 per cent in 2015 to 29.85 per cent in 2017 and the percentage of students passing the science subject at his school rose to 96 per cent last year, the organisation added.

“Congratulations to Samuel Isaiah and Norhailmi Abdul Mutalib for reaching the final 50. I hope their stories inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and highlights the incredible work teachers do all over the world every day,” said Sunny Varkey, the founder.

“Our recent Global Teacher Status Index finally gives academic proof to something that we’ve always instinctively known: the link between the status of teachers in society and the performance of children in school.  

“Now we can say beyond doubt that respecting teachers isn’t only an important moral duty —  it’s essential for a country’s educational outcomes.”

The Global Teacher Prize Academy, the committee that determines the winner, includes prominent names such as Wendy Kopp, co-founder and CEO of Teach for All and Dean and Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education, United States; Fareed Zakaria.

A prize committee will pick the top 10 finalists from the 50 shortlisted teachers and a winner will then be chosen by the Global Teacher Prize Academy.

The prize committee and the academy will look for evidence that applicants for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize had met several criteria.

This includes having employed creative and effective education methods that may be universally replicable, achieving demonstrable student learning outcomes in the classroom and having tangible impact on the community.

The winner will take home US$1 million (RM4.2 million).

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