Linah Anyango, a Kenyan teacher from Changamwe Secondary School in Mombasa has made it to the top 50 shortlisted candidates for the 2020 Global Teachers Prize (GTP).

The Biology and Chemistry teacher, Linah Anyango has been included in the top 50 shortlist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2020 in partnership with UNESCO.

Now in its sixth year, the Sh100 million award is the largest prize of its kind and was last year won by Kenyan science teacher Peter Tabichi.

Linah Anyango, shortlisted for the Global Teacher Prize 2020, was selected from over 12,000 nominations and applications from over 140 countries around the world.

Linah did not initially want to be a teacher but grew to love the profession with time and experience. She initially pursued a degree in Education because it was what her parents could afford to pay for.

During her first five years in the teaching profession, she did not feel she was achieving much or enjoying herself since teaching was one of the lowest-paying jobs in her country.

Linah Anyango

However, her ideas about teaching changed when she was posted to a secondary school where the students were marginalized and had very low self-esteem.

The boys were caught up in drugs and gangs, while a number of girls were over-burdened with domestic chores and also suffered sexual exploitation.

These factors contributed to high rates of absenteeism and drop-out, especially among the girls.

Linah Anyango

Parent did not want to take their children to school, and there was also a stereotype that students from this school could not achieve much in life because they came from poor families.

However, Linah started to empathise with these students and decided to use her role as a teacher to make a positive impact on their lives.

Since girls were performing poorly in sciences, Linah started the Girls in STEM club to inspire them take up STEM courses and careers after high school.

To connect with her students more generally, she also started a cultural music club, which enabled them to open up, share and appreciate each other’s cultures.

This boosted many of the pupils’ self-esteem, helping them believe in themselves and consequently leading to reduced absenteeism.

Over time, Linah shifted her focus from improving grades to developing the knowledge, skills, values and attitudes that would help students thrive in life after school. Technology became an integral part of lessons, as it boosted engagement, helped students become better problem-solvers, and improved their communication skills.

Linah’s school subsequently presented two girl’s teams in the National Science Fair: one team was selected to represent the country in the ESKOM Fair in South Africa, where they presented their work to Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Having trained and coached more than 200 teachers from nearby schools on ICT Infusion, Microsoft recently also selected Linah as a Microsoft Educator Expert and Trainer.

With the Global Teacher Prize funds, Linah would set up SHTEAM (Science, Humanities, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics) innovation hubs in eight regions of Kenya, where students would be mentored to convert their ideas into projects that can solve real-world problems.

She also aspires to create mobile laboratories that will help more schools have practical lessons at least once per week.

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