Kenyan teacher nominated for the Sh148Million Global Teacher Prize

Kenyan educator Millicent Cassianes has earned a well-deserved nomination for the prestigious Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize in 2023. Her journey to this recognition was marked by a highly competitive selection process, which saw her distinguish herself from a pool of over 7,000 nominees and applicants representing more than 130 countries, all vying for the esteemed Sh148,500,000 ($1 million) prize.

Cassianes currently serves as a dedicated teacher at the BL Tezza Special School for the Deaf in Karunga, Kenya. Her passion for teaching and her commitment to special needs students have been unwavering since she began her career with the Teachers Service Commission (TSC).

Her path to becoming an advocate for the hearing-impaired community was set in motion when she encountered students with severe hearing loss and infections at an orphanage. Driven by a desire to provide better care and support for these individuals, she sought specialized training in hospital settings.

In her quest to better communicate and connect with her students, Cassianes enrolled in Kenyan Sign Language classes. Subsequently, she joined the BL Tezza Special School for the Deaf, where she could put her newfound skills into practice.

Not content with merely imparting knowledge, Cassianes demonstrated her commitment to her students by actively seeking financial support for the construction of the school. Her efforts bore fruit, as she secured donations from various organizations, including the National Fund for the Disabled of Kenya. Additionally, she took a bold step by taking out a bank loan to help finance the school’s construction.

Today, the BL Tezza Special School for the Deaf is home to more than 120 hearing-impaired students and operates on a competency-based curriculum that aims to empower and educate its students.

The Global Teacher Prize, now in its eighth year, attracts tens of thousands of entries and nominations from educators worldwide and is often referred to as the “Nobel Prize in Teaching.” The competition serves to elevate the status and recognition of the teaching profession on a global scale.

In the next phase of the competition, the top ten finalists will be announced later this year. These finalists will be scrutinized by the Global Teacher Prize Academy, comprised of prominent individuals in the field of education, who will ultimately select the winner.

This nomination follows in the footsteps of another outstanding Kenyan educator, Peter Tabichi, who was awarded the Global Teacher Prize in 2019. Tabichi, a mathematics and physics teacher, used his platform to champion STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education among African youth. Regardless of the outcome, Cassianes’s remarkable story will serve as an enduring source of inspiration for educators worldwide, highlighting the pivotal role that teachers play in shaping the future of young people.

It’s important to note that the Global Teacher Prize is organized in collaboration with UNESCO and in partnership with Dubai Cares, a global philanthropic organization based in the United Arab Emirates.