Western Cape teacher announced as a Top 10 finalist for the 2023 Global Teacher Prize! - News | Western Cape Education Department

Western Cape teacher announced as a Top 10 finalist for the 2023 Global Teacher Prize!

25 October 2023

Statement by Minister David Maynier, Minister of Education Western Cape

Western Cape teacher announced as a Top 10 finalist for the 2023 Global Teacher Prize.jpg

In an announcement by actor Stephen Fry in Paris, France, this afternoon, Dr Mariëtte Wheeler, a Life Sciences teacher at Protea Heights Academy, was nominated as one of the Top 10 finalists for the prestigious Global Teacher Prize!

Candidates for the Global Teacher Prize are judged on a rigorous set of criteria to identify an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession. The 2023 finalists were selected from over 7 000 nominations and applications from 130 countries around the world.

The final award ceremony will be presented by the Varkey Foundation and its strategic partner Dubai Cares, in collaboration with UNESCO, on Wednesday 8 November 2023 at 18:30 (CET) in Paris, France. The ceremony will take place at the 42nd session of UNESCO’s General Conference.

Dr Wheeler's dedication to education and to making a difference in the lives of her learners and the larger community have earned her this well-deserved recognition. Her passion for her subject and sharing of her knowledge with her learners is admirable.

In 2021, Dr Wheeler won the Department of Basic Education’s Best Teacher Award. Her teaching approach emphasizes working towards the simplest possible explanation of material, and she implements this in various ways. Learners explain work to each other in small peer groups, have class debates, participate in charades-like class competitions, and use the Quizziz app to learn difficult scientific terms.

Outside the classroom, she also makes monthly record broadcasts on marine life for a local radio station, listened to by around 400 000 people.

Nine of the 50 finalists are from Africa. In the history of this award, a total of eight teachers from South Africa have made it to the Top 50 and Top 10 Global Teacher Prize Finalists. Three of these are from the Western Cape including Warren Sparrow (Top 50, 2015) and Wendy Horn (Top 50, 2018) who is currently the District Director of the Metro North Education District. 

Dr Wheeler shared her excitement at the announcement:

“Wow, what an exciting day – to be announced as one of the Global Teacher Prize Top 10 finalists! It is an honour to represent the Western Cape Education Department and South Africa in this international competition. Being one of the Top 10 means that the work that I am doing at Protea Heights Academy for the Western Cape Education Department will be showcased at the event at the UNESCO headquarters on the 8th of November. It will be a very proud moment for me to represent South Africa. Thank you for all the support and encouragement that I have been receiving.”

She continued: “I hope that my selection will also inspire my fellow teachers in our country to keep up their amazing work. Teachers really make a difference every day – igniting curiosity, as role models, caring for our learners and celebrating the learners’ special moments with them.”

Western Cape Minister of Education, David Maynier, congratulated Dr Wheeler on this outstanding achievement: “We are delighted that a Western Cape teacher has made the Top 10. It is a testament to the quality of teaching taking place in our province. Dr Wheeler serves our learners with distinction, and I wish her the very best for the announcement of the global winner in two weeks’ time!”

Protea Heights Academy congratulated Dr Wheeler on her nomination and for representing the school globally. “We are grateful to have you as part of our team and we wish you all the best in the next phase of the competition!”

Visit https://globalteacherprize.org/news/global-teacher-prize-finalists/2023-finalists-global-teacher-prize/1150/1150-Mariette-Wheeler for more information about Dr Wheeler’s nomination.

Media Enquiries:
Kerry Mauchline
Spokesperson to Minister David Maynier
Western Cape Ministry of Education