Commonwealth Education Awards 2021

The Commonwealth Education Awards highlight and recognise the quality and diversity of learning systems, resources and spaces in 54 Commonwealth member countries. By recognising excellence and innovation, we hope to support education and learning initiatives that are being conducted in the 54 member countries, highlight the great work of education professionals and signal the key role of education and learning in achieving sustainable development.

The Awards draw attention to educational practices with replicability potential in different Commonwealth contexts and promote sharing of knowledge and expertise. In addition to honouring finalists and winners, the goal is to drive awareness and inspire action among stakeholders in the education sector.

The Awards take place triennially to coincide with the Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers, where winners are recognised and given the opportunity to participate in the various forums. The Government of Kenya will host the next CCEM in 2021 in Nairobi.

Commonwealth Education Awards 2021

The Commonwealth Education Awards 2021 will reflect the theme and sub-themes of the 21CCEM. By recognising excellence and innovation, we hope to support member countries in their endeavours, highlight the outstanding work of education professionals and signal the key role that education and learning play in the achievement of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We especially encourage entries that reflect creative and effective ways deployed by education systems in preparedness or response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Objectives of the Commonwealth Education Awards

  1. Identify and draw attention to innovative, inspiring and good practices in education and learning that are replicable in different Commonwealth contexts.
  2. Acknowledge, encourage, motivate, reward and generate enthusiasm within the education sector.
  3. Recognise the outstanding work and achievements of education professionals that have improved the well-being of learners.
  4. Highlight initiatives that remove barriers, facilitate access to quality education and learning for all, and build resilience, especially for disadvantaged groups.
  5. Create an environment that will encourage and sustain investments in education and learning.


The Awards will go to:

  • A project that represents promising achievements in primary or secondary levels of education.

  • An individual who has gone beyond and above, to transform learning, creating a lasting value of learning for the pupils, students, schools or communities*.

Nominees must be:

  • A project lead of an institution or organisation delivering teaching and learning.

  • A teacher or school leader.

Who can enter the Commonwealth Education Awards 2021?

  • Any organisation, whether public or private, including Commonwealth ministries of education, educational institutions and civil society organisations delivering an education or learning project in a Commonwealth country can nominate the project.

  • Before nominating the project, secure permission from an appropriate senior manager. A submission must be a project that has made a positive difference to learners, whether children, young people or adults, or to the education system of a Commonwealth member country in respect of one or more of the six project categories for 2021. The project must have been running for more than 12 months.

  • A teacher or school leader who has demonstrated outstanding achievement and leadership to improve education and learning. You can also nominate others for awards. However, please check with the nominee beforehand that they are happy to have their name put forward. The nominee must be a Commonwealth citizen and exercising her/his profession in a Commonwealth member country.

Areas and categories

The areas and categories for 2021 will be the following:

1) Rethinking Education for Innovation

  • The award will recognise the best project under this category, including projects with daring ideas about education and technology.

2) Rethinking Education for Work

  • The award will go to the most promising project that imparts to students the competencies they will need to navigate a changing world – skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration, often referred to as '21st century skills', 'soft skills’, or 'deeper learning'.

3) Rethinking Education for Sustainability

  • The education project that best demonstrates an innovative and impactful sustainability programme or policy designed to enhance institutional sustainability through education, from an environmental, social, economic or human sustainability perspective, will receive an award.

4) Education as Pathways to Peace

  • The project that best promotes universal and humanistic values and makes a comprehensive shift towards preventing violence and sustaining peace through education, will receive an award.

5) Education for Inclusion

  • The award will recognise the project that provides the best inclusive environment to learners with special education needs to participate fully in school life or society.

6) Commonwealth outstanding teacher or school leader

  • The award will recognise and reward outstanding Commonwealth teaching or school leadership that prepares pupils or students for success; and that allows them to reach their full potential as productive, responsible, principled citizens.

Judging Criteria

Submissions should cover the sections below, as each section will be reviewed during the short-listing phase and scored:

  • Overview - a brief description of the project or achievement.

  • Description of the key challenges and the approaches adopted – the submission will consider the following points: issues, innovative strategies used and adaptation of existing approaches; level of relevance; sustainability; efficiency and effectiveness.

  • Participation: Community participation and contribution, including learners’ or parents’ contribution.

  • Outcomes - key performance metrics and results, both in terms of measurable impact over time and in terms of effect – meeting expectations.

  • Leadership (for the individual award) – able to demonstrate initiative or leadership of an innovation in an educational setting, with significant contribution to the development of the learners, the organisation and/or the communities.

  • Achievement – what is the project or individual’s core achievement(s) within the last one or two years; and what is the potential for replicability and scalability.


There will be four finalists who will benefit from recognition and publicity around their work. Two winners will receive sponsorship to attend the 21st Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers in Kenya: the top project entry will receive the Pan Commonwealth Award and the best teacher or school leader will receive the Outstanding Award.

The two winners will receive the awards at the Commonwealth Conference of Education Ministers taking place in Kenya in March 2021.

The awards ceremony will take place as part of the opening ceremony of the 21CCEM where the winners will receive an engraved plaque and a certificate.


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Deadline: Applications must be submitted by 30 June 2020.


Apply today!