Dubai teen in top-10 list for $100,000 Global Student Prize

Lamya Butt was selected from among 3,500 nominated pupils around the world

A Dubai teenager who has made it to the top-10 list of the Global Student Prize wishes to use the money to help pay for university tuition if she wins.

Lamya Butt, 17, a Pakistani living in Dubai, has been named as a finalist for the Global Student Prize 2021, which promises the winner a $100,000 award.

The award will highlight the work of exceptional pupils and students making an impact on learning and the world.

I also aim to allocate some of the money towards causes I believe in such as promoting girls' education
Lamya Butt, Global Student Prize finalist

Lamya, a Year 13 pupil at Dubai Scholars Private School, was selected among more than 3,500 nominations and applications from 94 countries around the world.

The finalist said she was shocked and burst into tears, when she received the news.

“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Lamya who was born and raised in Dubai.

"I want to use it to pay for my university education.

“Two of my siblings are in university now while the youngest is in high school. We are at an age where the finances on education are taking up a huge portion of the income.

“Being able to fund my university education would be a great way to thank my parents for all that they have done for me."

Lamya also planned to share some of the money with charities who support things she feels passionately about.

“I also aim to allocate some of the money towards causes I believe in such as promoting girls' education.

“I would want to pay it forward.”

Lamya aspires to pursue her undergraduate studies in economics and political science at university in either the US or Canada.

The Global Student prize winner will be announced on November 10 during an online ceremony scheduled to be hosted from Unesco’s headquarters in Paris.

Lamya enjoys engaging in class discussions and taking on leadership roles.

One of her positions is as the first teenage adviser from the UAE for the UN Foundation's Girl Up initiative.

She was also head girl at her school and helped tutor other pupils in mathematics and economics, plus she founded the school’s newspaper.

Lamya also created Resilient Together, which works with international philanthropic organisations to provide technological devices to 20,000 pupils in the UAE who had to move to remote learning during the pandemic.

The group hosts events, activities, and youth-focused initiatives for community engagement through the pandemic.

The Global Student Prize has been launched to shine a light on their stories and listen to their voices
Lila Thomas,

Resilient Together has established chapters in five countries – the UAE, US, Poland, Mexico, and Pakistan.

If Lamya wins, she said, she would also invest further in Resilient Together to buy equipment for her podcast and pay volunteer instructors.

This year the Varkey Foundation launched the Global Student Prize, a student equivalent of the annual $1 million teacher prize. is a supporter of the Global Teacher Prize and partnered with the Varkey Foundation to create the new Global Student Prize.

Pupils and students are assessed on their academic achievements, impact on peers, how they make a difference in their community and beyond, as well as overcoming odds and demonstrating creativity.

It is open to all pupils aged 16 and above and college students enrolled in an academic institution or training programme. Part-time students, as well as students enrolled in online courses, can also apply.

“Lamya and all our finalists represent the courageous and hardworking students all over the world that are fighting for their future," said Lila Thomas, head of

"Despite the challenges of Covid, this generation of students has shown the kind of resilience and creativity that give us all hope as we confront the towering challenges ahead.

"The Global Student Prize has been launched to shine a light on their stories and listen to their voices."

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation, congratulated Lamya, and said: “Her story clearly highlights the importance of education in tackling the great challenges ahead – from climate change to growing inequality to global pandemics. It is only by prioritising education that we can safeguard all our tomorrows. “

The other top 10 finalists for the Global Student Prize 2021 are Amisa Rashid from Kenya, Elliott Lancaster from the UK, Jeremiah Thoronka from Sierra Leone, Kehkashan Basu from Canada, Ana Julia Monteiro de Carvalho from Brazil, Matine Khalighi from the US, Mirko Cazzato from Italy, Oluwadamilola Akintewe from Nigeria and Seema Kumari from India.

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Updated: October 17th 2021, 11:01 AM