Dutch primary school teacher up for world’s ‘best’ teacher award

Photo: Varkley Foundation

A Dutch primary school teacher has made it to the finals of the Global Teacher Prize 2019 to find the ‘best’ teacher in the world.

Daisy Mertens, who teaches at the De Vuurvogel school in Helmond, is one of 10 finalists competing for the $1m top prize, awarded to ‘an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession’.

Mertens works at a large community-based school with 440 pupils and up to 30 different nationalities.

‘The pupils have huge learning differences – children with severe learning problems are mixed in with gifted children – and in addition,her pupils face prejudice from students in wealthier areas, have poorer language skills than the average, and struggle to realise their life chances,’ the organisers say.

‘At the heart of Daisy’s teaching is the equal participation of children in planning their own learning…  this mean carrying out their own research projects on a meaningful topic or theme – for instance, designing a sustainable amusement park,’ the judges said.

Mertens won the Dutch teacher of the year competition in 2016.

The prize is awarded by the Varkley Foundation, an Indian family foundation which, according to the website, was established to improve standards of education and raise the status and capacity of teachers throughout the world.

The finalists were selected from over 10,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries around the world.

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