Two teachers from Lagos State, Adeola Adefemi, and Olusegun Adeniyi, have been named in the top 50 shortlist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2021.
Varkey Foundation in partnership with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) will award the winner the $1 million (N411,690, 000) prize.
Adefemi teaches English Language at Oke-Odo Senior High School while Adeniyi teaches art at Caleb British International School, Lagos.
The $1 million prize was won last year by an Indian village teacher, Ranjitsinh Disale.
Also, Oluwadamilola Akintewe, a 22-year-old student of Adekunle Ajasin University, Ondo State; Blessing Akpan, 23-year-old student of the University of Uyo, Akwa Ibom State; and Esther Ajari, 22-year-old student of the University of Ibadan (UI), Oyo State, have been included in the top 50 shortlist for its new sister award, the Chegg.org Global Student Prize 2021.
They are in the race for the $100,000 (N41,169, 000) global student prize.
The top 10 finalists of both categories would be announced in October 2021.
The winners of both prizes would be chosen from the respective top 10 finalists by the Global Teacher Prize Academy and the Global Student Prize Academy, which were made up of prominent individuals.
The winners are due to be announced at an awards ceremony in Paris in November.
According to a statement by the founder of Varkey Foundation, Sunny Varkey, the stories of the shortlisted Nigerians highlight the importance of education in tackling the great challenges ahead – from climate change to growing inequality and global pandemics.
A statement from the organisers said Adefemi and Adeniyi were selected from over 8,000 nominations and applications from 121 countries while the students were shortlisted from over 3,500 nominations and applications from 94 countries.
Head of Chegg.org, Lila Thomas, in a statement said the Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognise one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in the society.
“Adeniyi is renowned for bringing out the creative side of his students with two decades of nurturing new talent and creating stimulating art projects in his blended classroom that improves their self-confidence and encourages them to be lifelong learners, critical thinkers, and global citizens,” the statement said.
The organisers said in her first teaching assignment, Adefemi, was sent to a school that had been labelled “low-performing.”
“Soon, she revolutionised the curriculum and her students’ performance by launching the ‘Every Child Counts’ campaign, creating subject-associated clubs, and encouraging students to enter competitions.
“Within two years, her school won the African Top School Award for its academic performance. Her students have since won 103 different international, national and state competitions,”the organisers said.
The students who applied for the Global Student Prize are being assessed on their academic achievement, impact on their peers, how they make a difference in their community and beyond, how they overcome the odds to achieve, how they demonstrate creativity and innovation, and how they operate as global citizens.