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Ugandan teacher shortlisted for Global Teacher Prize 2020 worth $1m

By Geoffrey Mutegeki

Added 20th March 2020 02:19 PM

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, a teacher at St. Monica Girls Training Center, Gulu, district is on the shortlist of top 50 for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize after 12,000 nominations from more than 140 countries.

Ugandan teacher shortlisted for Global Teacher Prize 2020 worth $1m

Rev. Sr. Dr. Rosemary Nyirumbe. Photo/File

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, a teacher at St. Monica Girls Training Center, Gulu, district is on the shortlist of top 50 for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize after 12,000 nominations from more than 140 countries.

EDUCATION  

KAMPALA-  Ugandan teacher has been named in the top 50 shortlist for $1m (sh3.7bn) Global Teacher Prize 2020.

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe, a teacher at St. Monica Girls Training Center, Gulu, district is on the shortlist of top 50 for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize after 12,000 nominations from more than 140 countries.

Held annually, the prize is given to an exceptional teacher who has made a monumental contribution to their profession.

Now in its sixth year, the award is the largest prize of its kind and was last year won by Kenyan science teacher, Peter Tabichi.

Nyirumbe 64, says if she wins she will use the prize money to build libraries in all her schools and support students who cannot afford learning materials, according to the Varkey Foundation website.

She also promised to commit some of the funds towards her current project to build an agricultural college, which will boost the production of crops to sustain the school and raise further income.

Nyirumbe has been teaching in Uganda since 2002 - a challenging setting for any teacher.

Political unrest in the country has created many obstacles, not only for education but also for ordinary living.

As a result, Nyirumbe's chief aim has been to empower young women and their children whose schooling was cut off due to abduction by rebel fighters.

When she began teaching at St Monica's Girls Training Center in 2002, she first took the time to learn about what skills and knowledge would practically help young women in the region.

Since then, she has enrolled more than 2000 women aged 15-20 in her vocational school to learn business skills, secretarial studies, sewing, and catering.

These skills help her students to become economically self-reliant, a hugely important form of independence.

The majority of her graduates have subsequently found good employment in the high-end hotel industry.

Over the last decade, Nyirumbe has shown consistent ingenuity in creating projects that benefit both the school and its students.

She started a restaurant on campus to teach catering skills while also generating further income for the school.

The Sewing Hope Foundation is a nonprofit she founded to rehabilitate child soldiers from the civil war, aiming to change the mindset of people who have experienced conflict and transform them into peacemakers through education.

She has also created a kindergarten for her students' children that began as space under a tree and now takes place in a new building that can accommodate 250 people.

Further innovations have included building houses and infrastructure out of leftover plastic bottles and manufacturing pop tab purses with her students - which are now sold worldwide to help support the other programmes.

The top 50 shortlisted teachers will be whittled down to 10 finalists by a Prize Committee, with that result set to be announced in June 2020.

The winner of the 2020 prize is scheduled to be announced at a ceremony at the Natural History Museum in London on October 12.

The finalists have been described as individuals who advocate for inclusivity and for child rights, integrate migrants into classrooms, and nurture their students' abilities and confidence.

"They are all champions for change and are inspiring their students and communities around them," reads a comment from the Global Prize website.

With 10 years to go to meet UN Sustainable Development Goal 4 - providing a quality education for every child - the Global Teacher Prize has partnered with UNESCO to ensure teachers are right at the top of governments' agendas.

The Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognise one extraordinary teacher who has made an exceptional contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society.

Other achievements

In 2014 Nyirumbe was listed as one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential People for the work she has done empowering women and children in Uganda.

She has travelled around the world to explain her approach and has been awarded four honorary doctorates while pursuing her own doctoral qualification in Structural Education and Leadership.

She has also contributed to panels at the World Economic Forum, established partnerships with Notre Dame and Oklahoma State universities, and won the 2007 CNN Heroes award.

She also received the UN Women Award in 2013.

About Nyirumbe

Nyirumbe, is the youngest of eight children, born and raised in a small village of huts with grass roofs within Paidha, district.

She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Development Studies from Uganda Martyrs' University, Nkozi.

She also has a Master's Degree in Leadership for Human Development, from Duquesne University, Italy.

Nyirumbe also holds Honorary Doctoral Degrees from the Italian University of Duqusne and the University of De Paul in Chicago. She said of her achievement.

Nyirumbe currently runs St. Monica Girls Tailoring School, in Gulu, where she also started a secondary school and a kindergarten, basically for formerly abducted girls and their children.

Rome Reports described her in 2019 as "the Mother Teresa of Africa."

Additional Reporting by  Arnest Tumwesigye

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