News March 25, 2019 at 09:02 am

This Kenyan Franciscan wins $1m global teacher prize after years of helping the poor

Francis Akhalbey | Content Manager

Francis Akhalbey March 25, 2019 at 09:02 am

March 25, 2019 at 09:02 am | News

Peter Tabichi receiving the 2019 Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize -- Photo Credit: globalteacherprize.org

A Kenyan science teacher and Franciscan Brother who donates 80% of his salary to local community projects has won the prestigious 2019 Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize beating 9 other finalists.

Peter Tabichi, who teaches at the Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in the impoverished Pwani Village in Kenya’s Rift Valley was awarded the $1 million prize at the event which took place in Dubai on Sunday and was hosted by Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman.

“This prize does not recognize me but recognizes this great continent’s young people. I am only here because of what my students have achieved. This prize gives them a chance. It tells the world that they can do anything,” Tabichi said in his acceptance speech, according to Africanews.

“Africa will produce scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs whose names will be one day famous in every corner of the world. And girls will be a huge part of this story.”

Peter Tabichi — Photo Credit: globalteacherprize.org

The Global Teacher Prize, according to their website, is awarded annually to “an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession.”

Prior to joining the school, Tabichi was teaching in a well-equipped private school with brilliant students but later on felt his help was needed by the other schools in the surrounding communities.

“I felt that the surrounding communities, they also needed my help. I said let me help and extend the same love to the surrounding community, and that’s what made me come to this school,” he said in his video profile.

Despite numerous setbacks including a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, having just one computer to teach the entire student population, bad internet as well as most of the students either coming from poor families or are orphans, Tabichi has managed to turn things around.

Under his guidance, 60% of projects by the school’s Science Club have been eligible for national competitions. At the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair 2018, his students presented an invention that allows blind and deaf people to measure objects. The Mathematical Science team are also currently gearing up for the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 in Arizona after qualifying. The Royal Society of Chemistry also awarded his students for their invention that harnesses local plant life to generate electricity.

Photo Credit: globalteacherprize.org

“I’m immensely proud of my students. We lack facilities that many schools take for granted, so as a teacher I just want to have a positive impact not only in my country, even in the whole of Africa,” he said.

Tabichi’s contributions and impact have been so immense that student admission has doubled to 400 within three years with weekly indiscipline cases also reducing significantly – his profile on Varkey Foundation further states.

Beyond the borders of the school, Tabichi also teaches families how to cultivate crops that are drought resistant as the community experiences occasional famine during the dry season.

Peter Tabichi — Photo Credit: globalteacherprize.org

Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta, also paid tribute to Tabichi and congratulated him for winning the award.

“Peter – your story is the story of Africa, a young continent bursting with talent. Your students have shown that they can compete amongst the best in the world in science, technology and all fields of human endeavour,” he said.

Take a look at his video profile below:

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