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News 2 > Global Teacher Prize - Finalists > 2023 Finalists Global Teacher Prize > Lia Laela Sarah

Lia Laela Sarah 

Indonesia - SMAS UPI Laboratory High School, Bandung

Multi-award-winning Lia Laela Sarah wanted to be a teacher since she was a young girl and began work as a professional in 2006. Her studies incorporated technology into education, and she is a firm believer in how it can help motivate students to study, having written a number of research papers on its use, approach and effectiveness. To meet Indonesia education’s challenges of social inequality which often leads to bullying, violence and lack of motivation and tolerance, comparatively low student science literacy borne out by its PISA scores, compounded by some of Lia’s students having hearing impairments and disabilities, she has implemented innovative methods such as differentiated and social emotional learning, STEM, collaborative project-based learning, and scaffolded enhanced learning.  

She built a science, technology, and robotics community in her school which reaches out beyond its confines. She gives free lectures in the STEM community for both her students and other teachers in the country. One of her innovations was to design a learning environment that helps students work collaboratively and improve their science literacy called ODIVA, based around the pillars of orientation, demonstration, inquiry lesson, verification, and application. She also initiated a program called to improve the scientific literacy of teenagers, giving students and teachers from some provinces in Indonesia the tools, knowledge, skills, and background experience on how to use new technology such as the microcontroller Arduino in science classrooms, enabling students to build a Wall-E style robot and conduct science experiments with it. 

Lia is also an active member of the teachers’ organization Ikatan Guru Indonesia, a fundraising and assistance initiative to help teachers affected by low wages, natural disasters or illness. As part of her drive to improve education quality she has written and adapted student physics books, along with writing national teacher training modules hosted by Indonesia’s Ministry of Education. She also joined the development team for climate change education organisation Seameo Qitep in Science (Seaqis) which integrates climate change education into the curriculum, helps teacher develop lesson plans, teaching materials, generate project ideas and share their best practice climate actions.  

At her own school she runs a ‘reduce, reuse and recycle’ campaign teaching students about climate change and then introducing practical steps to reduce plastic waste and create eco enzyme natural pesticides for the school’s hydroponic garden, helping her students develop solar energy and other green projects. Her student climate change workshops have been run in collaboration with other countries such as Japan, and she has mentored students to become presenters at international symposium events, with her school going on to build relationships with other schools in countries like Malaysia and Australia.  

Her students gain valuable experience in teamwork and communication, two skills that are crucial for overcoming the challenges of the 21st century. In addition, to improve critical thinking skills and creativity, she guides students in projects both in entrepreneurship and science research, teaching them how to formulate critical questions, look for opportunities or face challenges experienced by local communities, practice research procedures, learn how to test products, and how to promote their products or research results.  

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