Sunny Varkey


Sunny Varkey

Sunny Varkey is the Founder of the GEMS Education Group. He is a passionate education entrepreneur who is the driver behind GEMS’ mission to advance education for all.

Mr Varkey believes in the power of education to reduce poverty, prejudice and conflict around the world. To find new solutions to world education challenges, he has forged partnerships with the World Economic Forum, Microsoft, UNESCO, and The Clinton Global Initiative.

Mr Varkey’s visionary’s ambition and campaigning efforts have been widely recognised. In 2012 he was named UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Education Partnerships. The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Education conferred an award of distinction for Mr Varkey’s service to education in 2011. The Indian Government has honoured him in 2009 with the Padmashri Award, one of the highest civilian honours, and the Rajiv Gandhi Award for Eminent Educationist in 2008.

Message from our Founder:

The year 2020 marked the beginning of a “decade of delivery” in education – with 10 years left to meet the sustainable development goal of promising every child a good education by 2030.

Now with only 8 years to go, the world is continuing to drift away from meeting this target, and the Varkey Foundation will see how it can best use every ounce of its energy to make the greatest difference to help achieve these milestones.  Our generation will not be forgiven if we continue to deny the lifeblood of education to those in the next.

Our first priority will always be to ensure the teacher voice is heard. We are therefore committed to ensuring The Global Teacher Prize remains a beacon for teachers everywhere and our foundation’s guiding light, a flame we will kindle with renewed purpose. We will look to move the prize ceremony around the world, spreading the message deeper into new host countries, and making the prize’s reputation live up to its name as a true global celebration of teachers. 

I am humbled that the Global Teacher Prize has now inspired over 40 National Teacher Prizes around the world. New countries continue to join our cause, creating their own prizes that are driving our message of raising teacher status ever wider and deeper. This is so crucial as our recent follow-up study to the Global Teacher Status index showed that, though respect for teachers is on the rise around the world, there is still a mountain to climb before they are truly recognised for what they are: the mother of all professions.

We will continue to shape global education debates in areas such as edtech, neuroscience and philanthropy, wherever and whenever we can have the greatest impact. This work will include hosting summits throughout the world and publishing ground-breaking research that gives us fresh insights to help point the way forward.  We will also look to partner with individuals and organisations that can help us finally move the needle on the global education crisis.

Our Global Teacher Ambassadors, made up of former Global Teacher Prize finalists, are growing in numbers and ideas and they continue to share expertise and challenge the status quo. Our Atlantis Group of former Education Ministers will continue to impart wisdom on how we can help bridge the world’s scandalous education divide. We have a vanishingly small window in which to make a difference so we will need all this experience from the front line to draw from.

At the same time we must remember that technology has opened up limitless new horizons for activism and ways to reach new audiences.  Education debates are moving beyond the walls of seminar rooms and spreading virally among a young and empowered generation. We must adapt or we will find it impossible to be heard in an age of ever shorter attention spans.

All of these very different activities are for one purpose alone: to ensure that every child is given their birthright: a quality education. With the enormous challenges this generation will face, it’s the least we owe them.


Whatever the question, education is the answer.