A 58-year-old Dubai-based Indian education entrepreneur has pledged to give away more than half of his wealth for helping teachers around the world by signing a popular philanthropic campaign.
Kerala-born Sunny Varkey joins the likes of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and fellow Indian Wipro chairman Azim Premji by signing Bill Gates’s “The Giving Pledge” campaign.
“I am delighted to sign the Giving Pledge. I was fortunate that I grew up in a family where charity was ingrained in us from a very early age. Even when my father earned a small amount, a large portion was shared with the community we lived in, sometimes at the cost of our own comfort,” Varkey said.
“To this day, our underlying philosophy remains that good giving ‘pinches’, meaning that the sacrifice you make has to be felt. Therein lies the appeal of the Giving Pledge to my family. I have also always believed that education is key to fixing so many of the world’s greatest problems: violence, poverty and health,” he added.
The Giving Pledge was founded by American magnate Warren Buffett and Microsoft founder Bill and wife Melinda Gates to help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit to giving more than half of their wealth to philanthropic and charitable causes.
Varkey joins 136 billionaires from around the world who have signed the pledge, including Richard Branson, chairman and founder of Virgin Group and Ted Turner, founder of CNN.
He is the founder of Gems Education, the world’s leading education provider, which covers around 140,000 students across the world from over 153 nationalities.
He is also founder of the Varkey Foundation, which trains teachers around the world and in 2014 launched the Global Teacher Prize, a USD 1 million prize to celebrate the teaching profession.
The Varkey Foundation’s projects include teacher training and pupil education programmes in Africa, which has trained 12,000 teachers to date and aims to impact upon the lives of 10 million children.
It also produces original research such as the ‘Global Teacher Status Index’.