"Changemaker maker" Ashoka Fellows Recognized by Global Teacher Prize

Teachers have an uprecedented role in shaping the future generation. This year the Varkey Foundation announces the selection of the inaugural round of awardees for the "Global Teacher Prize" to recognize teachers doing exceptional work across the globe. Ashoka Fellows Kiran Ber Sethi from India and Guy Etienne from Haiti are among the 10 finalists for the Global Teacher Prize. The annual Prize is to be awarded to “an innovative and caring teacher who has made an inspirational impact on their students and their community”. According to the Varkey Foundation, the Global Teacher Prize seeks to do for education what the Nobel Prize has done for science, literature, and peace; the focus is to uplift the valuable contributions that teachers make every day to establish a flourishing global society. The winner will be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on 16th March 2015 and will receive US $1 million.

Both Kiran and Guy have re-defined how children and young people grow up by re-imagining the school as a platform for developing young people as changemakers that believe change is possible and that they can drive it. At Catts Pressoir in Haiti, where Guy teaches, kids learn science as they build solar-powered traffic lights for their community, plant trees in their community, or build robots with recycled materials. Thousands of miles away in India at Riverside School, the school Kiran founded, children learn how to be protagonists in their environment, to exercise full citizenship, and to find affirmation for their needs and ideas. Through a simplified Design Thinking approach, students learn to understand empathetically rather than just intellectually. As they practice changemaking, they develop as “citizen leaders, graduating with passion and compassion and believing that the opportunities are not just right for them but that they will do right by the opportunities,” says Kiran.

Kiran Bir Sethi, India

In 2001 Kiran set up the Riverside School in India after discovering that modern education places insufficient emphasis on imagination, emotional well-being and choice. Her school has pioneered a simplified Design Thinking approach – a methodology that leads students to understand empathetically and puts academic learning into a real-world context.

Her Riverside School has also had an effect on the wider community through the ‘aProCh’ (a Protagonist in every Child) program, which is a city project promoting the celebration of childhood. Many schools in India have been inspired by this initiative, and aProCh has supported the implementation of these programs in five cities across the country, impacting over 50,000 children since 2007.

Read Kiran’s motivation story.

Guy Etienne, Haiti


Guy heads the College Catts Pressior in Port-au-Prince – a school that, over the years, has become a benchmark for quality in the Haitian educational community. His mission consists of demonstrating how a rigorous scientific education can serve the needs of the wider community and advance the development of Haitian society overall.

College Catts Pressior approach has been led by Guy and is based around teaching that focuses on the development of a core set of skills: self-confidence, an inquisitive mind, teamwork and a commitment to excellence.

Guy has designed a TV programme about frugal science showing educators how to teach science with resources that are readily available in nature.

Read Guy’s inspirational story.


Part of this story first appeared on the Global Teacher Prize 2015 announcement