Ha Anh Phuong, a Vietnamese teacher of English working in a poor area in northern Vietnam, is among 50 finalists for a prestigious teaching award. The Global Teacher Prize is an annual award of US$1 million given by the Varkey Foundation, a British charitable foundation focused on improving education standards for underprivileged children.
Ha Anh Phuong, 29, works at Huong Can High School in a mountainous area of the northern Phu Tho Province, where economy and geography often stand in the way of getting good education. Around 90 percent of Phuong‘s students are of ethnic minority background.
Herself a descendant of the Muong ethnic group, Phuong says she decided to become a teacher after she watched a documentary on how teachers work hard to persuade people in remote areas to send children to school. She got her master’s degree at Hanoi University but rather than pursue a career in the capital city, she returned to her hometown in Phu Tho and became a teacher there.
Aware that her students have few opportunities to speak English with foreigners, Phuong often connects her classroom with schools around the world via Skype so that children can make friends and learn English together. Her innovative approach to teaching brings visible results, with her students performing very well in national exams.
Minister of Education and Training Phung Xuan Nha has sent a congratulatory letter to Phuong, calling the award “the Nobel Prize for education.”