Global award-winning Pakistani teacher reveals the inspiration behind educating underprivileged students

Sister Jeff established a school for needy students in the courtyard of her house in Arup neighborhood of Gujranwala.

Sister Zeff received her award at a ceremony at the UNESCO General Conference in Paris on November 8, 2023.  -
Sister Zeff received her award at a ceremony at UNESCO’s General Conference in Paris on November 8, 2023. –

Pakistani teacher Rifat Arif, better known as Sister Jeff, from Gujranwala’s Arup area – who received the Global Teacher Prize 2023 – has revealed what inspired her to educate underprivileged children, what led her to Got such a great honour.

Sister Jeff set up her own school for needy students in the courtyard of her home in Arup, a neighborhood of Gujranwala, Punjab.

She was just 13 years old when she decided to set up a school because a teacher in a government school abused her and she had to leave the school.

That’s when she pledged that she would educate all the underprivileged and other children who face the same challenges as her.

During her 26 years of struggle, Sister Jeff transformed the small academy into a proper building serving as a school.

sharing with geo news On how she felt after receiving such an honor, Sister Jeff said that she did not know how to react after being announced as the winner of the Global Teacher Prize because it was really surprising for her.

“When I returned to Pakistan, I felt very good with the respect I was getting from people. I’m very happy,” she said.

Sister Jeff further explained what she had in mind when she founded the school.

She said, “Children also deserve some respect and an environment to flourish. I looked around but there were no schools like that so I thought I would be that teacher.”

The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2023 was organized in collaboration with UNESCO and in strategic partnership with Dubai Cares, a UAE-based global philanthropic organization.

Sister Jeff was selected from over 7,000 nominations and applications for the Global Teacher Prize from 130 countries around the world.

According to the official statement, the Pakistani teacher accepted his award at a ceremony held at the UNESCO General Conference in Paris on November 8, 2023.

Who is Sister Jeff?

At the age of just 13, Pakistani teacher Sister Jeff set up her own school in the courtyard of her home for underprivileged children whose parents cannot afford the fees.

She worked eight hours a day to finance the school, then taught students four more hours and then stayed up at night to teach herself.

Twenty-six years later, the school, now housed in a new building, provides free education to over 200 underprivileged children. From a young age, she faced adversity and emerged as a beacon of hope for underprivileged children in her wider community.

Many of his students, coming from ordinary backgrounds, have gone on to work for his education and empowerment foundation, while others have gone on to very successful professional careers.

As well as running the school, she also runs self-defence classes for girls, having herself faced attacks and threats.

She also provides financial support to families choosing between educating their children and paying their bills and runs a vocational center that has helped over 6,000 women acquire skills in ICT, textiles and the English language .

Her dedication to education and empowerment has touched countless lives and earned her numerous awards, recognizing her as a true change-maker and advocate for women’s rights and children’s education around the world.

With the Global Teacher Prize Fund, Sister Jeff plans to build a school on 10 acres, where children from the country’s poorest families can be given education without any discrimination.

She would also like to create a refuge for orphans, where food would be grown on the property and teachers would be invited from all parts of the world to instruct them in a number of subjects.

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