By Aditi Khanna
MARIAMMA Varkey, a Kerala teacher who was the inspiration behind the annual Global Teacher Prize, has died aged 89, her son and UAE-based entrepreneur Sunny Varkey said on Friday. Mariamma Varkey is credited as a pioneer in teaching who, along with husband K S Varkey transformed the education system in the UAE upon their migration from Kerala. They taught English to local Arab children and even counted royal family members of Dubai among their former students. Responding to the increased demand for an English-language education for the children of Indian expatriates, the Varkey family founded “Our Own English High School” in Dubai in 1968 to teach children of all nationalities and religions.
“It is with great sadness that I announce the death of my mother, Mariamma. Though she may be gone, her spirit of peace and tolerance will live on within me always,” said Sunny Varkey, Founder of GEMS Education and the Global Teacher Prize, inspired by his mother. The school set up by the Varkeys was the seed that grew into the GEMS, founded in 1980, now operating and managing over 250 schools globally.