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Starfish School in Chiang Mai Nominated for World’s Best School Prize for Innovation

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Starfish School Shines Internationally: Top 10 Nominee for World’s Best School Prize for Innovation

In the heart of Chiang Mai, Thailand, a beacon of inspiration radiates from Starfish School, a school that has just been named in the Top 10 shortlist for the prestigious World’s Best School Prize for Innovation. These esteemed prizes, founded by T4 Education in collaboration with stalwart supporters like Accenture, American Express, and the Lemann Foundation, celebrate educational excellence and innovation globally. This year, the distinguished winners will share a generous $50,000 prize fund.

Starfish School, a charity-funded institution serving students from kindergarten through primary school, stands out as a symbol of transformative education. By employing its “3R Innovation Curriculum” and Makerspace Programme, Starfish School has been making waves in educating marginalized communities, positioning itself as a frontrunner for the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation.

The five categories of the World’s Best School Prizes—Community Collaboration, Environmental Action, Innovation, Overcoming Adversity, and Supporting Healthy Lives—were established in the aftermath of COVID-19 in 2022. The aim? To spotlight schools that are not only succeeding within their own classrooms but also offering best practices that can be emulated globally, thereby enhancing education on a broader scale.

The evaluation process for these awards is stringent, with the winners selected by an illustrious Judging Academy. What’s more, the excitement has just intensified as the public voting segment has now opened, allowing people from all over the world to cast their votes. The school that garners the most public votes will be honored with the Community Choice Award and membership to T4 Education’s Best School to Work programme, a significant resource aimed at bolstering teacher wellbeing and addressing the ongoing crisis of teacher recruitment and retention.

Vikas Pota, the visionary Founder of T4 Education and the World’s Best School Prizes, captures the essence of this initiative perfectly:

“Without addressing the pressing global educational challenges—such as learning gaps widened by COVID, chronic underfunding, and the escalating crisis of teacher wellbeing, recruitment, and retention—we risk failing the next generation. Trailblazing Thai schools like Starfish School demonstrate the remarkable impact that innovation and a strong culture can have on countless lives. Schools worldwide can learn from their pioneering solutions, and it is high time that governments take note and follow suit.”

About Starfish School:

Starfish School is not your typical educational institution. With its foundation in 2006, this school has dedicated itself to creating equitable learning opportunities for its 234 students, striking a harmonious balance between local wisdom and advanced teaching methodologies. Its culturally inclusive environment is designed to empower students by integrating local wisdom with modern education technology solutions.

At the core of Starfish School’s innovative approach is the “3R Innovation Curriculum,” which simplifies Thai language learning for non-native speakers while integrating Thaiglish to enhance English proficiency. The accompanying Makerspace Programme pushes the envelope, fostering critical thinking and problem-solving skills through self-directed STEAM activities.

The impact of Starfish School’s initiatives is verifiable, with governmental accolades recognizing the success of programs like the Maker Space. There are heartwarming stories of students applying what they’ve learned in practical ways, such as creating an air conditioner using local materials—demonstrating the effective blending of STEM learning with traditional knowledge. This seamless integration prepares students to face future challenges with innovation and respect for their cultural heritage.

Following a guiding philosophy rooted in the UPRISE framework—Useful, Problem-Solving, Real World, Impactful, Self-Directed, and Experiential learning—Starfish School ensures that its educational practices remain meaningful and influential. Their efforts have led to partnerships with both governmental and non-governmental organizations, amplifying their educational impact and earning them recognition as a Sandbox School since 2021.

If crowned with the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation, Starfish School has grand plans to expand the Starfish Learning Hub. This move aims to enhance community learning and promote sustainable social entrepreneurship, further solidifying its role as a vanguard in educational innovation.

As the countdown begins, the Top 3 finalists for each of the five World’s Best School Prizes will be unveiled in September 2024, and the ultimate winners will be announced in November. An elite Judging Academy, comprising distinguished leaders from academia, NGOs, social enterprises, government, and the private sector, will determine the winners, each of whom will receive $10,000 out of the total $50,000 prize.

Meanwhile, the recipient of the Community Choice Award, chosen through the Public Vote, will gain membership to the Best School to Work programme. This certification offers schools detailed feedback, actionable insights, and benchmarking data, helping them transform their culture to attract and retain exceptional teachers.


T4 Education staunchly believes that every child, no matter where they are, deserves a high-quality education. Our mission is to create the world’s largest community of teachers and schools striving together to achieve this goal. Through our digital media platform, we facilitate networking, collaboration, and the sharing of best practices among educators. By amplifying teachers’ voices, we aim to build a world shaped by those at the very heart of education.

For further information, please contact Salman Shaheen: [email protected].

Celebrate with us! Watch the announcement of the Top 10 schools for the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation:

Discover the activities and teachings that led to Starfish School’s remarkable nomination:

Message from the Vice Minister of Education in support of Starfish School’s bid for the World’s Best School Prize for Innovation:

[Thai Version], [English Version]


  1. EduCritic99 June 14, 2024

    While it’s commendable that Starfish School is getting recognition, I wonder how sustainable their methods are in the long run. Do these innovations actually translate to better educational outcomes beyond the optic of awards?

    • Sarah Liu June 14, 2024

      Sustainability is always a concern, but isn’t it better to celebrate the effort and innovation? At least they are doing something different than the factory model of education.

      • EduCritic99 June 14, 2024

        True, but we must scrutinize the metrics of success they claim. Awards can sometimes overshadow real impact.

      • Adam W. June 14, 2024

        Opinions without accountability don’t help. Let’s look at their data and then decide. Ultimately, it’s their students’ transformation that counts.

  2. Jessica June 14, 2024

    Kudos to Starfish! It’s amazing to see a small school in Thailand making such a global impact. Hopefully, other schools will take note.

    • TommyJ June 14, 2024

      It’s ironic that a small school in Thailand is achieving this, while many well-funded Western schools are struggling to innovate.

    • Gina P. June 14, 2024

      Sometimes it’s not about the resources but the willingness to change and adapt.

  3. Carlos1890 June 14, 2024

    I have my doubts. Education reforms can often look good on paper but rarely translate effectively in real life, especially in underfunded regions.

    • Sophia L June 14, 2024

      Why must we always be so cynical? Starfish is doing a great job and inspiring many. Let’s celebrate their achievements first!

    • Carlos1890 June 14, 2024

      Healthy skepticism isn’t cynicism. Let’s dig deeper into their methods and outcomes before jumping to conclusions.

    • Aiden June 14, 2024

      I agree, but it’s fair to say their recognition means they’re doing something right. It’s a step in the right direction.

  4. Kumar S. June 14, 2024

    Innovation is great, but will these methods be sustainable without constant funding and global attention?

    • PeachyKeen June 14, 2024

      Funding is indeed a concern, but programs that show tangible benefits often find ways to sustain themselves.

    • Kyra June 14, 2024

      Village schools like these often rely on passion and community support, which can sometimes outlast traditional funding mechanisms.

    • Kumar S. June 14, 2024

      Let’s hope that passion and community support won’t falter. Only time will tell.

  5. Aliya R. June 14, 2024

    Great to see a school focus on integrating local culture with education. Many systems ignore cultural heritage altogether.

    • Jonas G. June 14, 2024

      Absolutely, respecting and incorporating local wisdom can make education more relevant and effective.

  6. TechGuru June 14, 2024

    Makerspaces are the future. It’s commendable that a school in a small community is embracing STEAM education so thoroughly.

  7. Vanessa D. June 14, 2024

    The fact that they’re addressing language barriers with ‘Thaiglish’ is brilliant. Language shouldn’t be a hurdle to effective education.

  8. Jake June 14, 2024

    Is $50,000 really enough to make a difference for such large-scale innovations?

  9. Sam P. June 14, 2024

    I think the recognition and network opportunities might be more valuable than the prize money itself.

  10. Thao N. June 14, 2024

    Global recognition for schools like Starfish might spark a wave of educational reforms in other parts of the world.

  11. HopefulTeacher June 14, 2024

    Let’s hope this sparks a new era where education systems adopt more inclusive and innovative practices globally.

  12. EduFan22 June 14, 2024

    Starfish School’s success proves that passion and innovation can overcome even the toughest challenges.

  13. Johnny123 June 14, 2024

    Isn’t it unfair that well-funded schools with more resources often get overshadowed by these ‘underdog’ stories?

  14. Lily Cooper June 14, 2024

    Not at all! These stories tell us that it’s not always about the money but about the approach and dedication.

  15. Wei Shen June 14, 2024

    It’s incredible to see how Starfish School integrates technology with traditional knowledge. This should be a model for others.

  16. Monty June 14, 2024

    The UPRISE framework sounds intriguing. Could it be adapted to other schooling systems?

  17. Arvind K. June 14, 2024

    If successful, the UPRISE framework could indeed be a game-changer for underperforming schools worldwide.

  18. EduCritic99 June 14, 2024

    However, frameworks without support can only do so much. Key is in proper and sustained implementation.

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