Renowned actor, musician, artist and humanitarian Ali Zafar has joined the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize Academy, which judges the ten shortlisted teachers in line for the US$1 million award, it was announced today.

The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, now in its third year, is a US$1 million award that was established to recognize 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 society. By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that transform young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of millions of teachers all over the world.

US teacher Nancie Atwell won the inaugural Global Teacher Prize in 2015. Palestinian teacher Hanan Al Hroub won the prize last year, with her triumph announced by his Holiness the Pope.

Last year, around 8,000 nominations were received from 148 countries all over the world. The top 50 shortlisted teachers are then narrowed down to a final ten by a Prize Committee. The winner will be chosen from these ten finalists by the Global Teacher Prize Academy between November and December 2016.  The winner will be announced at the Global Education and An accomplished actor, musician and fine artist, Ali Zafar is the first actor from Pakistan to have taken his work global and indeed beyond borders with a rich diversity of films, each in a lead role, to his credit. His work in music has definitively shaped the nature of Pakistan’s burgeoning music industry and his consistent desire and efforts to push the boundaries for South Asian actors in Pakistan and India has pioneered new avenues for taking Pakistan’s talent global.

ali zafar

ali zafar

A passionate humanitarian with a seasoned history of supporting those in need, in 2015 Ali channeled his commitment to philanthropy through the establishment of his eponymous Ali Zafar Foundation to help empower those less fortunate. He specifically focuses on women’s education and empowerment aiding financial support directly for the girls at the Sanjan Nagar Foundation in Pakistan.  He is also an integral part of the 141 schools initiative by The Citizens Foundation, regularly fund raising to meet their pledge to build 141 schools following the brutal massacre of children and teachers at the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan.

Mr Zafar joins prominent names on the Global Teacher Prize Academy such as: Carina Wong, Deputy Director of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; Wendy Kopp, co-founder and CEO of Teach for All; Brett Wigdortz, founder and CEO of Teach First, Nick Booth, CEO, The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, Jeffrey D. Sachs, world-renowned professor of economics and special advisor to the U.N and Lewis Pugh, the only person to have completed a long distance swim in every ocean of the world.

I was in Dubai in March this year for the prize ceremony and was humbled to meet the amazing teachers shortlisted for the prize.

I was taught by some great teachers, including my parents both of whom are career educationalists, and their inspiration helped me achieve what I have in my career. We must always remember that there is always a great teacher, behind the scenes, guiding and pointing the way forward.

“Teachers should be celebrated like music and film stars. That is why I support the Global Teacher Prize.

Raising respect and celebrating teachers across the world can fulfill a crucial role in attracting and retaining the most talented candidates into the profession.”

Since its launch in March 2014, the Global Teacher Prize has received huge global support from heads of state, prime ministers, education ministers, business leaders and NGO heads. The Pope also met a selection of shortlisted candidates inside the Vatican. The story of the top ten finalists and the eventual winners, including Nancie Atwell, a teacher from Maine, US, in 2015, was written and broadcast by some of the world’s most influential media outlets.

The Prize is open to currently working teachers who teach children that are in compulsory schooling, or are between the ages of five and eighteen. Teachers who teach on a part-time basis are also eligible, as are teachers of online courses. It is open to teachers in every kind of school and, subject to local laws, in every country in the world.