Maggie MacDonnell, a Canadian teacher was named the winner of the annual Global Teacher Prize at a ceremony conducted on 19 March 2017 at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.
Maggie who teaches at the Ikusik School in Salluit, an Inuit village deep in the Canadian Arctic, was awarded for her achievements within the local community that survives amidst harsh conditions and her effort in helping to reduce teenage suicide rates.
She was awarded a cash prize of US $1m. She received the honour from Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and the Emir of Dubai.
• Maggie was among the 10 finalists, chosen from over 20,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries across the globe.
• The winner’s name was announced through a video link by an astronaut on the International Space Station.
• The inuit village, where Maggie teaches, is known to have a high suicide rate.
• Maggie herself has witnessed over 10 suicides and she described at the event how it felt to be a teacher after the suicide of a student.
• The region is also infamous for teenage pregnancies and high levels of sexual abuse. To help curb the same, Maggie created life-skills programme specifically for the young girls in the region.
• Maggie has also been a temporary foster parent in the indigenous community.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Maggie on her win through a video message and thanked her along with other teachers teaching in the village, which is located in one of the world’s most remote regions, surrounded by snow and ice that has no roads and is only accessible by air.
About the Global Teacher Prize
• The prize is US $1 million award, which is presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession.
• It aims to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers – not only on their students but on the communities around them.
• The prize is paid in instalments and requires the winner to remain a teacher for at least five years.
• The Nobel-like award was set up three years ago by the Dubai-based Varkey Foundation under the leadership of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
• Last year’s award went to a Palestinian teacher, Hanan al-Hroub, for her work in countering violent behaviour among her students through the means of play in the West Bank.
• The judging panel includes head teachers, journalists, entrepreneurs, public officials, scientists, company directors and entertainment industry figures from across the world.