Dubai: A 30-year-old Indian teacher is among top 10 finalists selected from around the world for the 1 million dollar Global Teacher Prize to be announced here.
Robin Chaurasiya, who runs a not-for-profit school in Mumbai for girls from the city's red light district of Kamatipura, is up against innovative maths teachers from London and Helsinki and educators from countries like the US, Japan, Pakistan, Palestine, Australia and Kenya.
Chaurasiya, founder of Kranti School, refers to her students, aged 12-20, as "Krantikaries" (Revolutionaries) who are victims of trafficking and daughters of sex workers and many of whom have joined her in Dubai for the ceremony.
"I grew up in Seattle with a lot of domestic violence and abuse. My parents both had mental illnesses, I was a woman of colour in the US and a lesbian," Chaurasiya said.
"I feel I really understand where these girls are coming from. When we set out to heal other people, we are actually trying to heal ourselves. It has been amazingly healing for me," she said.
The top 10 finalists were narrowed down from 8,000 nominations and applications from 148 countries from around the world.
Chaurasiya said if she won the prize later tonight, she plans to take just 100,000 dollars of the 1 million dollar money to set up a proper school in Mumbai to reach out to other girls and boys from the city's red light areas and distribute the rest equally among her fellow finalists.
"As much as I connect with my kids so deeply and think they deserve the best education in the world, I can imagine all the other teachers feel the same. And while 1 million dollars is amazing, 100,000 dollars is also good enough to start building our dream school in India," she said.
The prize, founded by the Varkey Foundation and now in its second year, will see each teacher escorted on the red carpet by Hollywood celebrities like Matthew McConaughey and Salma Hayek and Bollywood stars like Abhishek Bachchan and Akshay Kumar to mark the culmination of the two-day Global Education and Skills Forum 2016 in Dubai.
"I want to congratulate Robin Chaurasiya for being selected as a top 10 finalist from such a huge number of talented and dedicated teachers," said Sunny Varkey, the Kerala-born founder of Varkey Foundation. "I hope her story will inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and also shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over India and throughout the world every day," Varkey said.