In a momentous announcement at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, Sister Zeph, a Pakistani teacher, emerged as the recipient of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2023. This prestigious accolade, presented in collaboration with UNESCO and in partnership with Dubai Cares, acknowledges Sister Zeph’s extraordinary dedication to educating underprivileged children.
At the age of 13, she initiated her own school in the courtyard of her home, providing free education to over 200 children whose parents couldn’t afford fees. Over the course of 26 years, the school has evolved into a thriving institution housed in a new building, symbolizing hope for countless underprivileged children.
A Life Devoted to Empowerment
Sister Zeph’s transformative impact extends beyond the classroom. Beyond teaching, she runs self-defense classes for girls, offers financial aid to families facing the dilemma of education versus bills, and operates a vocational center empowering over 6,000 women with skills in ICT, textiles, and English.
Facing personal adversity, including attacks and threats, she emerged as a beacon of hope. Many of her students have joined her education and empowerment foundation or pursued successful professional careers. Sister Zeph’s commitment to education, empowerment, and women’s rights has garnered international recognition, making her a true change-maker.
Vision for the Future with Global Teacher Prize Funds
With the Global Teacher Prize funds, Sister Zeph envisions building a school spanning 10 acres, ensuring education without discrimination for children from the poorest families in Pakistan.
Additionally, she aims to establish a shelter for orphans, cultivating food on-site, and inviting teachers from around the world to provide instruction in various subjects. Sister Zeph’s win not only celebrates her outstanding contributions but also highlights the critical role educators play in shaping a better future for communities and nations.