39 winners share Dh3.6 million in prize money awarded by the Khalifa Award for Education

Individual awards ranged from Dh50,000 to Dh200,000, depending on the category.

Sheikh Mansour presents her award to Vandana Marwaha, principal of Delhi Private School in Sharjah. Pawan Singh / The National
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ABU DHABI // When Sendeyah Al Samahi graduated from UAE University with a teaching degree, she never thought just three years later she would be nationally recognised for her work.

The 29-year-old Cycle 1 maths teacher was one of 39 teachers, principals and education researchers honoured for their work on Monday at the seventh annual Khalifa Award for Education.

“It’s a special thing for me – not just for me, but for my students, my teachers and my school,” said Ms Al Samahi, 29, a maths teachers at Ibn Al Nafees Boys Basic Education Cycle 1 in Fujairah. “This award gives me the power to continue my teaching.”

The winners, nationals and expatriates from the UAE and other Arab countries, shared Dh3.6 million in prize money. Individual awards ranged from Dh50,000 to Dh200,000, depending on the category.

“This award came to achieve numerous goals, including emphasising and encouraging and appreciating distinguished and outstanding employees in the educational field at the national and Arabic level,” said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Presidential Affairs and chairman of the award trustees.

“It provides a model and develops an educational atmosphere that encourages innovation and supports creativity and excellence. It encourages UAE nationals to go for education and educational jobs and enhance the language and identity of the country by adopting the Arabic language as the official language.”

Humaid Al Qatami, the Minister of Education, said: “This award is motivating the education sector and it adds value to educational development in the UAE and the Arab world.”

Organisers received more than 1,200 applications, 500 from outside, for the 39 awards. Candidates had to complete an application and submit documents proving they were worthy of an award. Interviews with candidates were also held for some categories, said Humaid Ibrahim, a member of the executive committee that organised the awards. In addition to the prize money, winners received a certificate of excellence and a trophy.

“There is a long process of selection,” said Mr Ibrahim. “We open the door for all people to participate, then we start to filter, depending on the field and the criteria of each field. There was a big number of applications. So there was a long process of filtering those files.

“Khalifa Award for Education was established to nominate educators from not just here in the UAE, but around the Arabic world. It’s to encourage people to join that field and to put the spotlight on the importance of education and educators. So, this is a recognition from the government for the educators.”

Delhi Private School, an Indian curriculum school in Sharjah, Al Ebdaa School in Dubai and Al Raheeb School in Fujairah won the Educational and Institutional Performance prize.

“We don’t work for the award but it’s definitely a big encouragement and acknowledgement that we are on the right track,” said Delhi Private School principal Vandana Marwaha.

“We have a long way to go, we are evolving, but government recognition always encourages us to do even better, it motivates us.”