NEW YORK – Jesus Insilada, who teaches English and creative writing and a proud member of the indigenous people’s Panay Bukidnon community in the Philippines, has been named a top 10 finalist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2018 based in London, United Kingdom.
Now in its fourth year, the US $1 million prize money is the largest of its kind. The Global Teacher Prize winner will be paid in equal installments over ten years, and the Varkey Foundation will provide the winner with financial counseling.
Without compromising their work in the classroom, the winner will be asked to serve as a global ambassador for the Varkey Foundation, attending public events and speaking in public forums about improving the prestige of the teaching profession. A condition of winning the prize is that the winner remains as a classroom teacher for at least five years.
Jesus is a principal of Caninguan National High School in Lambunao, Iloilo. He and the other nine finalists have been selected from over 30,000 nominations and applications from 173 countries around the world. The top ten have been narrowed down from a top 50 shortlist that was announced in December 2017.
In announcing the finalists, Microsoft Founder and philanthropist Bill Gates paid a powerful tribute to the work of teachers around the world. “When you think about what drives progress and improvement in the world,” he said, “education is like a master switch-one that opens up all sorts of opportunities for individuals and societies.”
He added: “Just as important, these teachers are leaders who have innovated in the classroom and mentored their colleagues. They have demonstrated the kind of collaboration –teachers and schools working together– that can give all students the opportunity to get a great education.”
Gates said that finalists were “selected based on a rigorous set of criteria, including their proven effectiveness in inspiring students and helping them learn.”
When asked what he felt being named in the top ten, Jesus said: ” I felt happy. It is an affirmation that I am on the right track.” “However,” he continued, “this also poses a challenge to sustain what I started and do more to serve our learners to the best that I can.”
Jesus comes from a poor farming family. “I am the sixth child out of 9 siblings. My parents are Vincente Insilada and Aurelia Catigan. Tatay (father) is 78 years old and Nanay (mother) is 72,” he told the Philippine Daily Mirror in an email interview. He is the first family member to achieve professional qualifications.
Ninety percent of students in the Caninguan National High School belong to Indigenous Peoples groups like himself. Through his advocacy work, he has promoted education to indigenous communities, encouraging greater participation and far higher rates of enrolment in higher education. He is also active in promoting the rights and welfare of indigenous peoples. He now uses his own story of hope and perseverance to inspire others to overcome hardship and reach their dreams.
“I love teaching because it is an opportunity to touch, transform, and empower my indigenous students who are deprived and less privileged,” Jesus said. “Yet they are very determined to reach their dreams through education to become productive members of the community, of the country, and of the world.”
Jesus studied BSIE at the West Visayas State University previously known as Calinog Agricultural and Industrial College.
Jesus’s approach to teaching is known as culture-based education (CBE), which he models in his school throughout the curriculum. It is his dream that education throughout his country will become truly inclusive and culture-sensitive. With this approach, students become engaged in their education, learning through traditional dances, songs, epics, local games and crafts that give context to their studies. Test scores have revealed that at least 87 percent of his pupils achieved their age-expected grades through culture-based teaching.
“Through culture-based teaching, we have reduced our drop-out rate of students from five- to one-percent and we even want to have it at a zero rate,” Jesus said.
To engage parents, Jesus has invited them to school and have them participate in their activities. “I consider them as partners in keeping the children in school and for them to forget the hardship even for a day, remind them that we can overcome poverty if we are educated,” Jesus said.
“It is only in the awareness of our identity that empowers us. When we are empowered, we can become productive citizens of our community, of our country and of the world.”
He has received many national and international awards for teaching, and also for his writing and his promotion and support for indigenous culture.
Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize congratulated Insilada. “I hope his story will inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and also shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over the Philippines and throughout the world every day,” he said.
“The thousands of nominations and applications we received from every corner of the planet is a testimony to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives”.
The other nine finalists for the Global Teacher Prize 2018 are:
- Nurten Akkus a pre-school teacher and principal at Ayvacik Pre-School, Samsun, Turkey
- Marjorie Brown, who teaches history at Roedean School, Johannesburg, South Africa
- Luis Miguel Bermudez Gutierrez, a social science teacher at the Colegio Gerardo Paredes IED, Bogotá, Colombia
- Glenn Lee, an engineering and technology teacher from Waialua High & Intermediate School, Waialua, Hawaii, United States
- Diego Mahfouz Faria Lima, director of Darcy Ribeiro Municipal School, in São José do Rio Preto, São Paulo, Brazil
- Koen Timmers, a lecturer at PXL university college in Hasselt and a computer science teacher at CVO De Verdieping school in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium
- Eddie Woo, a mathematics teacher from Cherrybrook Technology High School, Sydney, Australia
- Andria Zafirakou, an art and textiles teacher from Alperton Community School, Brent, London, United Kingdom
- Barbara Anna Zielonka, an English teacher at Nannestad High School, Norway.
The winner will be chosen from this ten by the Global Teacher Prize Academy. All ten finalists will be invited to Dubai for the Award ceremony at the Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) on Sunday, March 18, where the winner will be announced live on stage in a red carpet gala event which is beamed around the world.
The Global Teacher Prize Academy includes prominent names such as Wendy Kopp, co-founder, and CEO of Teach for All; Brett Wigdortz, founder of Teach First; Nick Booth, former CEO, The Royal Foundation of The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry; James E Ryan, Dean and Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education, United States; 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.