Hà Ánh Phượng

Huong Can High School, Phu Tho province, Vietnam

Hà Ánh  Phượng

Anh Phuong Ha was born in a remote area in the north of Vietnam where farming is the main occupation and poverty rates are high. She first became aware of teachers’ potential to make a difference through a Vietnamese film she saw in her youth, in which the teacher character visits homes located along dangerous mountain paths to persuade parents to allow their children to go to school rather than stay at home and work in the mountains. After getting her master’s degree in English, Anh Phuong Ha recognised that becoming a teacher of English was the best way to improve people’s lives, and decided to return to her home region to make it happen.

Today, Anh Phuong Ha is an ethnic minority English Language high school teacher, living and working in a mountainous area where many people cannot get a good education for both economic and geographical reasons. The institution she works at, Huong Can High School, is located in an area of Phu Tho province where more than 90 per cent of the students are ethnic minorities aged 15 to 18. In this remote, mountainous high school in the north of Vietnam, students have little chance to practice English with foreigners. In many cases this leads to low language competence, shyness, poor intercultural awareness, and lack of interest.

Anh Phuong Ha has helped her students meet this challenge through technology: employing the “ borderless classroom model”, she connects her students with other schools worldwide via Skype. Some of her innovations have significantly improved student outcomes and are clearly seen in their national exam results: last school year, all of her students who were previously low-achieving in English Language passed the final exam (100%). Well known as the “4.0 innovative teacher” in Vietnam, she has now taught students online from four continents (Africa, Europe, Asia, and America), and is an active member of an educational Microsoft community that gathers global teachers to design lessons and engage in weekly professional development. Her work has been covered extensively by the Vietnamese national media, and in 2019, she was awarded the Innovative and Creative Teacher prize by Vietnam’s Department of Education and Training.

If she wins the Global Teacher Prize, Anh Phuong Ha would identify and support sustainable development school projects that are in need of financial assistance. In the long term, she would donate a computer lab to her school to provide better opportunities for students to access global knowledge. She would also create a free English learning app where any students can easily access study resources.