Mandalay Monk Shortlisted for Global Teacher Prize

By Zarni Mann 9 December 2015

MANDALAY — A leading Buddhist educator in Mandalay, known for developing a a teaching method radically different that usually encountered in Burma’s moribund public education system, has been shortlisted for the prestigious Global Teacher Prize.

Sayadaw U Nayaka, the cofounder and principal of Mandalay’s Phaung Daw Oo Monastic School is among the 50 finalists selected for the prize, shortlisted from 8,000 nominees spread over 148 countries. U Nayaka is the first Buddhist monk and the first Burmese teacher to be shortlisted for the award.

“I’m glad, although I’m just a finalist. I hope this pushes me to do more for the development of our school, and helps to change the education system in the country,” he said.

Unlike government schools, which are the only source of education for most of Burma’s youth, monastic schools are established and regulated under the Ministry for Religious Affairs. U Nayaka has made a dramatic departure from other monastic and public schools, encouraging active learning and the development of critical thinking over the rote memorization teaching methods common in other Burmese learning institutions.

Around 8,000 students are currently enrolled at the Phaung Daw Oo school, which is staffed by more than 300 volunteer teachers. U Nayaka has also developed a teacher training center in his school, guiding dozens of teachers with his teaching methods to export them to other monastic schools.

The Global Teacher Prize presents a US$1 million award to the teacher who has made the most outstanding contribution to the development of education and the teaching profession for the year. The prize was launched by the London-based Varkey Foundation in 2014.

The final top ten teachers under consideration for the 2015 Global Teacher Prize will be announced in February 2016. The winner of the will be announced on Mar. 16, at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai.