Jesus Insilada, a public school teacher from Calinog, Iloilo province, could not believe he was named by philanthropist and entrepreneur Bill Gates as one of the Top 10 finalists for the 2018 Global Teacher Prize of Varkey Foundation, beating tens of thousands of candidates from around the world.
He was one of the 30,000 nominees from more than 170 countries.
Insilada, who has a doctorate in Education and is the principal of Caninguan National High School, was chosen one of the finalists on February 14 through the Foundation’s YouTube channel.
He said he was surprised by the announcement.
“Di ako makapaniwala, deep inside, I was hoping na makasali sa Top 10. Masaya… flattered with this opportunity to share my story para maging inspirasyon sa iba, [I couldn’t believe it. Deep inside, I was hoping to be included in the Top 10. I’m happy… I feel flattered being given this opportunity to share my story to be an inspiration to others],” he said.
His school learned of the good news during their recognition program, “They were shocked that it was Bill Gates who made the announcement. Sabi ko sa kanila, mag-focus kayo sa studies ninyo at sa mga guro, pag-igihin pa ang pagtuturo.[I told them, focus on your studies. And to teachers, keep striving to improve your teaching.]” he added.
Varkey Foundation is a global charitable foundation headquartered in London, focusing on improving the standards of education for underprivileged children. It was founded in 2010 by Sunny Varkey, an education philanthropist and entrepreneur from Kerala, India, who is based in Dubai.
Insilada, also a teacher and member of the Panay-Bukidnon Indigenous Peoples’ (IP) community, uses culture-based teaching and inclusive learning in transforming the lives of students in his area. He is also an advocate of IP’s rights and welfare, and strives to contribute to making education culture-sensitive. At least 87 percent of his pupils have shown improvement in grades as they learned through his method of teaching using traditional dances, songs, local games and crafts.
Insilada will fly to Dubai for the awarding ceremony on March 18, 2018.
Varkey’s Global Teacher Prize searches for and recognizes exceptional teachers who have made an outstanding impact on their students and the profession.
The other finalists among the 10 best teachers in the world are from Turkey, South Africa, Colombia, the United States, Brazil, Belgium, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Norway. They were chosen for bringing positive changes to the lives of learners and their communities.
Should he win the coveted $1 million prize, Insilada said he would build a museum that would showcase the Panay Bukidnon culture, as well as support local performances and train teachers.
Insilada has won the Carlos Palanca award multiple times for his Hiligaynon short stories. He received the 2017 Princess Maha Chakri Award, and was one of the 2014 Metrobank Foundation Outstanding Teachers. He was also a national awardee for “The Many Faces of the Teacher” of the Bato Balani Foundation, Inc. in 2013.
Another Filipino teacher, Ryan Hobitan Homan, a literacy champion of San Jose Elementary School in Donsol, Sorsogon, also made it to the top 50 of the global search.
“We are truly proud of our teachers who go above and beyond the call of duty. Our Global Teacher Prize finalists have proven that Filipino teachers do not only impart knowledge to their learners, they also advocate great causes such as the promotion and preservation of culture—the very soul of our nation,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.