A Western Cape school teacher has been announced as the top 10 finalist for the 2023 Global Teacher Prize, and she was selected from over 7,000 nominations and applications from 130 countries around the world.
Dr Mariëtte Wheeler, a Life Sciences teacher at Protea Heights Academy, has been nominated as one of the Top 10 finalists for the prestigious Global Teacher Prize during an announcement by actor Stephen Fry in Paris on Wednesday afternoon.
Candidates for the Global Teacher Prize are judged on a rigorous set of criteria to identify an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.
The 2023 finalists were selected from over 7,000 nominations and applications from 130 countries around the world.
In 2021, Dr Wheeler won the Department of Basic Education's Best Teacher Award for her teaching approach that prioritises simple explanations and collaborative learning. Learners engage in peer discussions, class debates, charades-like competitions, and use the Quizziz app to learn complex scientific terms.
“Outside the classroom, she also makes monthly record broadcasts on marine life for a local radio station, listened to by around 400,000 people," said Western Cape Education Department spokesperson Bronagh Hammond.
Hammond added that nine of the 50 finalists are from Africa, and in the history of this award, a total of eight teachers from South Africa have made it to the Top 50 and Top 10 Global Teacher Prize Finalists.
“Three of these are from the Western Cape, including Warren Sparrow (Top 50, 2015) and Wendy Horn (Top 50, 2018), who is currently the District Director of the Metro North Education District,” Hammond said.
In sharing her excitement at the announcement, Wheeler said: “Wow, what an exciting day to be announced as one of the Global Teacher Prize Top 10 finalists! It is an honour to represent the Western Cape Education Department and South Africa in this international competition.
“Being one of the Top 10 means that the work that I am doing at Protea Heights Academy for the Western Cape Education Department will be showcased at the event at the Unesco headquarters on November 8, 2023. It will be a very proud moment for me to represent South Africa,” Wheeler said.
She further added, “I hope that my selection will also inspire my fellow teachers in our country to keep up their amazing work. Teachers really make a difference every day, igniting curiosity, acting as role models, caring for our learners, and celebrating the learners’ special moments with them.”
Meanwhile, the Western Cape Minister of Education, David Maynier, congratulated Dr Wheeler on this outstanding achievement, and they are delighted that a Western Cape teacher has made the Top 10.
“It is a testament to the quality of teaching taking place in our province. Dr Wheeler serves our learners with distinction, and I wish her the very best for the announcement of the global winner in two weeks’ time," Maynier said.
Protea Heights Academy also congratulated Wheeler on her nomination and for representing the school globally. “We are grateful to have you as part of our team, and we wish you all the best in the next phase of the competition.”