Varkey Foundation

The Varkey Foundation was established in 2011 by Sunny Varkey, the founder of GEMS Education, with the goal of improving education standards and raising the status and capacity of teachers across the world. Its programmes seek to learn from and share best practices, in areas ranging from teacher training to leadership, and to improve access to education among underprivileged, remote and displaced children. The foundation also organises the annual $1m Global Teacher Prize, which seeks to recognise outstanding teachers worldwide, and convenes conferences and events to promote shared learning. The foundation is primarily funded by the family’s Varkey Group, but also receives donor grants for some of its projects.

Related sustainable development goals

  • No Poverty
  • Quality Education
  • Gender Equality
  • Decent Work and Economic Growth
  • Reduced Inequalities
  • Sustainable Cities and Communities
  • Responsible Consumption and Production


46,000+ teachers trained

3,000+ schools supported

1.6m+ students impacted

Focus areas

Focus sectors

  • Education
    • Educational management
    • Education services
  • Public affairs
    • Public policy

Focus populations

  • Academics
    • Students
    • Researchers
    • Teachers
  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Immigrants and migrants
  • Preteens

Focus geographies

  • Africa
    • South Africa
    • Uganda
    • Cote d'Ivoire
    • Somalia
    • Kenya
    • Ghana
    • Sierra Leone
    • Nigeria
    • Sudan
  • Americas
    • Peru
    • Chile
    • Dominican Republic
    • Argentina
    • Canada
    • Uruguay
    • Ecuador
    • Peru
    • Colombia
    • United States
  • East Asia
    • China
    • South Korea
    • Japan
  • Europe
    • United Kingdom
    • Slovakia
  • Middle East
    • Iraq
    • United Arab Emirates
    • Lebanon
    • Palestine
  • North Africa
    • Morocco
    • Egypt
  • South Asia
    • Pakistan
    • India


  • Arab Campaign for the Education of All
  • Bridging Education and Mobility (BEAM)
  • Invincible Me
  • Jusoor
  • Pro.Svit: Center for Innovative Education
  • Teach for Ghana
  • Teach for Uganda
  • Zivica


  • Aleutia
  • Argentina Cibersegura
  • aws educate
  • British Council
  • Colegium
  • Consejo Federal de Inversiones
  • Dubai Cares
  • Everonn Education Limited
  • Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO)
  • Fundación BancoCiudad
  • Fundación La Nación
  • Fundación Noble
  • Genially
  • Global School Leaders
  • hundrED
  • integralis
  • Tecnológico de Monterrey
  • TikTok
  • Tufts University
  • UKAid
  • World Bank Group


  • Global Student Prize
    The Global Student Prize is a US$100,000 award presented to an exceptional student, making a real impact on learning, the lives of their peers and on society beyond.
  • Global Teacher Prize
    The Global Teacher Prize is a $1m award presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession.
  • Instructional Leadership Programme (Uganda)
    This aims to improve the quality of teaching by creating networks of highly trained professionals who can guide untrained teachers locally.
  • Leadership and Innovation (Argentina)

    An intensive six-week programme designed for current and aspiring school leaders with a special focus in leadership, innovation, communication, and technology.

  • Make Ghanian Girls Great

    This programme uses solar-powered and satellite-enabled distance learning infrastructure to deliver interactive learning sessions to students, teachers, communities, and government officials in Ghana to improve literacy and numeracy learning outcomes and support girls with the transition from primary to secondary school.

  • Teach to Reach Remote Classrooms (Ghana)
    This is an interactive distance learning project which aims to improve the educational experience of refugee children from Cote D'Ivoire.
  • The Atlantis Group
    This is a research and convening platform for former ministers and government leaders to exhange ideas on education reform.


Funding model

  • Foundation-administered programme awards
  • Grants to Individuals
  • Grants to organisations
  • Matching grants

Primary funders

  • Argentina Ministry for Education and Sport (related programme: Programme for Leadership and Innovative Education)
  • Dubai Cares
  • UK Aid (related programme: Making Ghana Girls Great)
  • Varkey family
  • Varkey Group Ltd

Funding source

  • Private


Key staff

  • Nicole Lui, executive director
  • Saima Rana, chief education ambassador

Board members

  • Sunny Varkey, founder
  • Jay Varkey
  • Harsha Varkey
  • Michael Vernon Lockett
  • Dino Varkey

Contact details



The self-taught winner of the $1m Global Teacher Prize: Pakistani teacher Sister Zeph has made educating underprivileged children her life’s mission. Read more 

$1m prize awarded to US teacher giving immigrant pupils a chance to succeed: Educator Keishia Thorpe used her own experiences of racism to improve support systems for immigrant students and their families. Read more

Kenyan science teacher wins global prize: Franciscan brother who gives away 80% of his salary scoops $1m prize for his contribution to teaching. Read more

$1m prize for UK teacher named ‘world’s best’: London-based Andria Zafirakou awarded 2018 Global Teacher Prize in star-studded Dubai ceremony. Read more

More from Varkey Foundation:

Annual report and financial statements (March 2022)