Sister Zeph, an educator from Gujranwala, Pakistan, has been recognized for her commitment and contribution to the field of education. She was awarded the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize for the year 2023. The event was held in collaboration with UNESCO at its headquarters in Paris. Sister Zeph was selected from over 7000 nominations for the Prize from across 130 countries.
Sister Zeph’s journey as an educator began at the young age of 13. In the year 1997, she founded a school in her courtyard for children of underprivileged backgrounds. Having faced adversities and challenges as a student, she aimed to help create a safe environment for students and their families from diverse backgrounds who faced many challenges and could not afford to pay the fees.
Sister Zeph supported her endeavour by learning embroidery and working 8-hour days to earn an income and fund the school. She taught students for 4 hours and taught herself for another few hours each day. Her efforts of over 26 years have resulted in the school having a new facility and offering free education to over 200 children. It also helped her earn master’s degrees in history and political science. Her determination shone through numerous challenges such as insufficient infrastructure, teacher shortages, etc.
With the Global Teacher Prize, she plans to build a school where children from financially and underprivileged backgrounds have better access to education without discrimination and create a shelter for orphans.
Sister Zeph also provides financial assistance to families choosing between their child’s education and making ends meet. She runs a vocational centre to help women learn and develop skills in textile, digital literacy and the English language. The centre helps women and mothers to gain financial independence to support their families and their children’s education.
Global Teacher Prize was established to recognise exceptional teachers who greatly contribute to the field of education. It aims to spotlight the role and importance of teachers in society.