UAE. UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova has nominated philanthropist, educator and entrepreneur Sunny Varkey as a Goodwill Ambassador for Education Partnerships on Thursday, April 26th. A special ceremony was held to mark the occasion at the Organization’s Paris headquarters.
Founder and Chairman of GEMS Education, an international education provider, Sunny Varkey will be recognized for “his contribution to forging innovative public-private partnerships to ensure that underprivileged children across the world receive a good quality education”.
Sunny Varkey is the son of Indian expatriates who moved to Dubai in 1959. His ambitions were shaped by the personal commitments of his parents, who founded their first school in 1968. Sunny Varkey took over the management of the school in 1980 and transformed the family-run institution into a multinational company. Today, GEMS Education educates more than 100,000 students who represent more than 150 nationalities.
By uniting parents, educators and governments under the cause of equal opportunity to schooling, Sunny Varkey is not only influencing teaching methods, but also helping to provide greater access to education, especially in Africa. An on-going collaboration between UNESCO and GEMS Education is training more than 10,000 school principals in Kenya, Ghana and India, while yet another programme is helping to improve STEM (science, technology, engineer and maths) education in Lesotho and Kenya.
GEMS Education operates in the public and private sectors. It also operates through a not-for-profit group, the Varkey GEMS Foundation. Founded in 2010 and chaired by former US President Bill Clinton, it promises to help 100 underprivileged children for every student enrolled at a GEMS school.
About UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassadors are an outstanding group of celebrity advocates who spread the ideals of UNESCO through their name and fame. They extend and amplify UNESCO's work and mission and have generously accepted to use their talent and status to help focus the world's attention on the work of UNESCO. Through their careers and humanitarian commitment they have made an important contribution towards the objectives and aims in UNESCO's four fields of competence, which are education, culture, science and communication/information.