LAHORE: Renowned actor, musician, artist and humanitarian Ali Zafar has joined the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize Academy, which judges the ten shortlisted teachers in line for the US$1 million award.

The Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, now in its third year, is a US$1 million award that was established to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society. By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that transform young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of millions of teachers all over the world. Nominations for the 2017 prize opened this week at  

US teacher Nancie Atwell won the inaugural Global Teacher Prize in 2015. Palestinian teacher Hanan Al Hroub won the prize last year, with her triumph announced by his Holiness the Pope.

Last year, around 8,000 nominations were received from 148 countries all over the world.  The top 50 shortlisted teachers are then narrowed down to a final ten by a Prize Committee. The winner will be chosen from these ten finalists by the Global Teacher Prize Academy between November and December 2016.  The winner will be announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai in March 2017.

An accomplished actor, musician and fine artist, Ali Zafar is the first actor from Pakistan to have taken his work global and indeed beyond borders with a rich diversity of films, each in a lead role, to his credit. His work in music has definitively shaped the nature of Pakistan’s burgeoning music industry and his consistent desire and efforts to push the boundaries for South Asian actors in Pakistan and India has pioneered new avenues for taking Pakistan’s talent global.

A passionate humanitarian with a seasoned history of supporting those in need, in 2015 Ali channeled his commitment to philanthropy through the establishment of his eponymous Ali Zafar Foundation to help empower those less fortunate. He specifically focuses on women’s education and empowerment aiding financial support directly for the girls at the Sanjan Nagar Foundation in Pakistan.  He is also an integral part of the 141 schools initiative by The Citizens Foundation, regularly fund raising to meet their pledge to build 141 schools following the brutal massacre of children and teachers at the Army Public School in Peshawar, Pakistan.