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News 2 > Global Teacher Prize - Finalists > 2023 Finalists Global Teacher Prize > Toni García Arias

Toni García Arias


Toni was born into a humble family living in a small village of about 800 inhabitants in Galicia. At the age of 10, his father had to leave school and go to work to help the family financially. Toni’s family had to move cities every year, and he studied in 15 different schools and institutes throughout Spain. Although this had its disadvantages, Toni now sees the experience of meeting hundreds of classmates and teachers as having been excellent practice for becoming a teacher. 

Toni has now been a teacher for 28 years, and the profession has become his way of understanding life. Throughout his career, he has worked in different schools and settings, almost always in socially marginalised places or in environments where violence and drugs are prevalent. 17 years ago, when Toni arrived at his current school, there were serious problems of indiscipline, discrimination and lack of motivation on the part of students. Fights in the yard were frequent. A significant number of students (82 per cent) dropped out of school at the end of compulsory education and the absenteeism rate was around eight per cent. Thanks to several interventions that Toni introduced, the situation has reversed: students' results are currently more than 20 points above their context in the official diagnostic tests, disciplinary problems have vastly declined, and the motivation of both students and teachers is high. 

In terms of teaching, the innovations that Toni brings to the classroom are mainly in Project-Based Learning. His "From Mutual Knowledge” project had an enormous national media impact as it was the first time that a Spanish school had been twinned with a Moroccan one. Integration of immigrant students and awareness of the problem of marginality on the part of teachers, students and families alike also improved. From this project, the Globaula Association for the integration of immigrant students was born, of which Toni is President. He is also currently an advisor to the Region of Murcia’s Department of Education for the improvement of the curriculum through Evidence-Based Education. 

Toni has contributed to sharing knowledge in the teaching profession, having written six educational books and more than 100 articles. In addition, he regularly appears on television, including the internationally known Horizonte on 4 TV. His achievements have received recognition from many quarters: he was the recipient of a Global Humanitas Award in 2022, the Best Primary Teacher in Spain award in the 2018 Educa Abanca Awards, and the Global Teacher Award 2021 from AKS. Over the years many students have sought him out personally or on social networks to thank him for teaching them. 

With the Global Teacher Prize funds, Toni would expand the activity of his NGO Globaula to aid the construction of a school in Tanzania, help students at risk of social exclusion, help immigrant parents establish themselves, and carry out awareness-raising activities around climate change and environmental care. He would also finance improvements to his school including a music classroom, school garden and science laboratory. 

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