Pakistani teacher wins global award for educating underprivileged students

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 the UNESCO General Conference in Paris on November 8, 2023. –

Pakistani teacher Sister Jeff, who set up her school for underprivileged children in the courtyard of her home in Gujranwala, has won the Global Teacher Prize 2023.

“We are pleased to announce that Sister Jeff, a teacher of English, Urdu, Culture, Inter-Religious Harmony, Climate Change in Gujranwala, Punjab, Pakistan, has been named the winner of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2023.” The organization announced this in a statement.

The awards were 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.

UNESCO Director General Audrey Azoulay congratulated the Pakistani teacher on receiving the prestigious award.

“We all remember the teacher who impacted our lives and changed our future. It may sound like a truism but it’s true: teachers are life-changers. Congratulations to Sister Jeff of Pakistan, the 2023 Global Teacher Prize winner. Thank them for their commitment as life-changers!” he wrote on his X handle.

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 impacted 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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