An educator in Iloilo is making our country proud! Out of 30,000 nominations and applications from 173 countries around the world, Dr. Jesus Insilada, the principal of Caninguan National High School in Lambunao, Iloilo, was chosen as one of the 10 teachers to be nominated to win the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2018.
And no less than tech giant and philanthropist Bill Gates made the announcement!
The Global Teacher Prize is an award-giving body under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, United Arab Emirates vice president and prime minister and ruler of Dubai. It recognizes exceptional teachers who has made outstanding contributions to the teaching profession and society.
A Global Teacher Prize video (see below) describes why Dr. Insilada was picked. He oversees a school where the students belong to the indigenous community of Panay Bukidnon that live in a remote region of Panay Island. One student describes that she needs to walk for two hours just to get to the school. The journey becomes treacherous when it rains and floods. The families here also live below poverty line, so it's typical for students to stop going to school.
According to Dr. Insilada, a member of Panay Bukidnon who grew up poor and knows what his students go through every day, he has seen 50 of his students drop out. Speaking of his community, "We feel underestimated and inferior."
Dr. Insilada knew he had to keeps his students in school because education was the key to overcoming poverty. So he introduced an approach that integrates aspects of the culture and traditions of Panay Bukidnon to the school subjects. The teachers in Dr. Insilada's school, for example, explain mathematical concepts by using the traditional embroidery patterns of the Panay Bukidnon as a visual aid, if you will. And it's working, as the video noted, with attendance and test scores improving.
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Students are listening, engaging and comprehending their lessons because Dr. Insilada understood something important. "Sir Jesus' secret on how to motivate students to go to school even though they live far away is to respect and value their culture,"Sally Ortigoza, a teacher, said in the same video.
The principal has taken it further by involving the parents in a community program where parents get to take a break and watch their kids perform their indigenous dances and songs. "It keeps our culture alive," Dr. Insilada points out.
Dr. Insilada dreams that education throughout the country will become truly inclusive and culture-sensitive. "It is only with the awareness of our identity that empowers us, and when we are empowered, we can become productive citizens of the community, of the country, and of the world," he said.
The winner of the Global Teacher Prize 2018 will be announced during the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on March 18, 2018. The winner will receive $1 million (more than P51 million) paid in equal installments over ten years.