By Fatih Mehmet Kurkcu
SAMSUN, Turkey (AA) - Nurten Akkus, a Turkish preschool teacher, is among the 10 finalists competing for $1 million in the 2018 Global Teacher Prize.
Akkus, manager of the Ayvacik Kindergarten in the northern province of Samsun, says she is both happy and proud at the prospect of winning.
"We have made history by making it to the best 10 teachers of the world," Akkus told Anadolu Agency.
In 2017, she made it to the top 50 teachers in the world list, the first Turkish citizen to do so.
"Then, these 50 teachers were reevaluated last week," she said.
She has launched several projects across Turkey to promote education in small, rural schools and improving parent-child relationships.
Her projects, which increased dramatically children’s motivation and engagement with education, was the subject of research by several universities. She was chosen by the Sabanci Foundation as “Turkey’s Changemaker”.
Her 'Daddy, tell me a story' project, which started eight years ago, has been implemented in 45 different provinces. It has helped hundreds of fathers in improving relationships with their children.
Her award-winning 'Piggy Bank for Toys' project is also being implemented across 43 provinces. It provides children with toys in small village schools.
Through her projects, children who had never gone to school and were poorly socialized learned to read and write and their behavior disorders decreased.
She has been involved in projects by UNICEF, Ministry of National Education and other nonprofit organizations.
Bill Gates, Microsoft founder, who announced the finalists said in a video that the selection was based on a rigorous set of criteria.
The winning teachers, Gates said, were not only “inspiring their students” but also “mentoring their colleagues”.
“When you think about what drives progress in improvement in the world, education is like a master switch,” Gates said.
The Global Teacher Prize, launched by former U.S. President Bill Clinton and sponsored by the Varkey Foundation, focuses on improving the standards of education across the world.
The winner will get the prize on March 17-18 in Dubai.