Emirati teacher Mariam Rashid Al Zeyoudi was announced the winner of the Dh1 million Emirates Innovative Teachers Award during the second day of the World Government Summit on Monday.
The teacher from Al Massa High school in Dibba, Fujairah was awarded by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai.
The award strives to adopt the most effective steps to support the education sector that complements the national strategy of 2021.
“I feel like any teacher would who has reached a platform of excellence, and I thank God for that,” Al Zeyoudi told Gulf News after receiving the award. Describing the award as one of the biggest honours in the education sector, Al Zeyoudi said she feels that her contribution to teaching Arabic language is one of the main reasons that landed her the award. “The award is a big honour but also a responsibility and I must say I have a little anxiety thinking of all the contributions I am yet to present,” she said.
The winner also highlighted the common misconception that Arabic language is far from modernisation and innovation. “I want to deliver the message to everyone that Arabic language will be in the forefront of innovation,” she added.
Al Zeyoudi, who carries a master’s degree and 4.0 GPA, has created several interactive and innovative initiatives to reconnect youth with the Arabic language. They include the Arabic language academy, the teacher’s smart card initiative, the ‘Start’ initiative, and has worked on improving the structure of exam schedules among many more.
Commenting on the win, Dino Varkey, Managing Director of GEMS education, told Gulf News the award, which is in its second year, is a signal from the leadership of the UAE on how important education is.
“In that aspiration, the UAE leadership aims to ensure that everyone has access to quality education, and that the teacher is the most important driving factor,” he said.
Varkey said the award aims to be a signal to everyone that teachers are still valued within the society and certainly within the UAE. “We are proud at where the award has got to over the last two years, and we hope that its sustainable and continues year after year,” he added.
Varkey further explained that the award’s criteria were based on the criteria from the Global Teacher Award worth $1 million, launched by GEMS charity partner, the Varkey Foundation.
“The ministry of education has been hugely active in ensuring that the teachers were selected and filtered, as well as the final award winner, are all worthy recipients of the award and all the responsibilities that it brings,” he said.
Participants in the award were self-nominated or nominated by others, and were requested to submit an essay along with evidence of their achievements to the jury. “Teachers were asked to talk about their attitude to learning, and their evidence of how they’ve been able to drive innovation and improve the outcome for students,” said Varkey.