Joao was born into a family of teachers in Portugal. He has always been involved in helping others learn in both formal teaching and outside endeavours. When he was 18 he created a company providing educational services and cultural events, and operated it with friends while studying at university. His teaching has revolved around using technology in ways that contributes to confidence and competence. His own students have made films on various historical topics, and have also prepared a digital guidebook and audio guides for the local museum. They have benefited hugely and his school has risen through the league tables.
Joao is currently involved in the School In A Box project in Mozambique. This is a digital community engagement project which supports and facilitates the use of technology to enhance learning in the classroom. It is a solar-powered mobile education solution for remote locations without access to electricity. Joao has also recently accepted an invitation to become an advisor to the Secretary of State for Education, particularly in the areas of technology integration and refugee integration in the educational system. He has represented the Portuguese government at international conferences on education training, and was made an Apple Distinguished Educator in 2015.
If awarded the prize, Joao would use the funds to improve school conditions in the Guava Primary School on the outskirts of Maputo. The money would be used to buy tables, chairs, and other necessary items, along with tablets and solar panels to get the school up to speed technologically.