The Malaysia Teacher Prize is the first of its kind in Malaysia, where teachers are being sought to share their practices and their ambitions for the classroom. Aiming to give autonomy back to teachers, the Prize seeks to highlight the prominence of teachers in the classroom where teachers are at the forefront of designing the best interventions. The grand prize is a monetary award of RM50,000, with the other four finalists receiving RM5,000 each. To learn more about the founding of the Malaysia Teacher Prize and its aspirations, we spoke with Cheryl Fernando, CEO of PEMIMPIN GSL and Samuel Isaiah, a Programme Coordinator at PEMIMPIN GSL and notably, a Top 10 finalist of the Global Teacher Prize.
The Prize was initially conceived in 2021, during which Samuel was a finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, an award by the Varkey Foundation which rewards one teacher with a US$1 million cash prize for their outstanding contribution to the profession. To form a localised version of the Prize, Samuel and Cheryl reached out to the Varkey Foundation following which, a collaboration with YTL Foundation was established.
Ten finalists, out of a wide pool of nominees, will be selected in line with a host of criteria. As Cheryl explains, there are four main elements. ‘We want to see innovations in the classroom because that is where the highest impact is.’ These are not necessarily novel ones, she notes, but rather, ‘everyday classroom practices where teachers have managed to see an impact.’ Just as importantly, the journey of the individual matters – their story as a teacher will be a factor. There is also an emphasis on going beyond the classroom, where external interventions conducted matter, and the teacher’s contribution to the teaching fraternity. In short, it is about a teacher who embodies such holistic experiences.
Similarly, as Samuel stresses, ‘we want to see a clear plan of what they would like to do with the [prize money of] RM50,000.’ Part of the Prize is about its support for the Top 10 finalists, who will undergo professional development to further develop not only themselves, but their classroom practices through varying perspectives. Professional development will involve how to brand themselves and scale innovations in the classroom, with the prize money going towards executing classroom interventions or ideas that would further enhance their classroom practices.
Applications for the Prize have now been extended until 17th July, and all eligible teachers can apply at https://malaysia-teacher-prize.awardsplatform.com/. If you know an inspirational teacher, you can nominate them using the same link.