A Kenyan science teacher and member of the Franciscan religion order has won a $1m prize (£760,000) for the world’s best teacher, in a competition run by the Varkey Foundation.
Peter Tabichi who teaches at the Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, Nakuru, has been named as the winner of the 2019 Global Teacher Prize after being praised for his achievements in a deprived school with crowded classes and few text books.
The inspirational educator, who beat 10,000 other teachers from 179 countries, gives away 80% of his pay to support pupils who otherwise could not afford uniforms or books.
Announced on stage by movie star Hugh Jackman during a ceremony in Dubai, the award recognises the “exceptional” teacher’s commitment to pupils in a remote part of Kenya’s Rift Valley.
Peter was chosen from the competition’s top 10 finalists who came from all corners of the globe. From teaching in remote towns and villages to inner-city schools, they advocate for inclusivity and for child rights, integrate migrants into the classrooms, and nurture their students’ abilities and confidence using music, technology, robotics and science.
Brother Peter’s pupils are almost all from very disadvantaged pupils with many either orphaned or having lost one of their parents.
The 36-year-old, who wants to raise aspirations and to promote the cause of science, hailed the potential of Africa’s young population on winning the prize.
“As a teacher working on the front line I have seen the promise of its young people – their curiosity, talent, their intelligence, their belief,” he said.
“Africa’s young people will no longer be held back by low expectations. 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.”
Franciscan monk Brother Peter, who is a member of the Catholic religious order founded by St Francis of Assisi in the 13th Century, says there are “challenges with a lack of facilities” at his school, including not enough books or teachers.
Classes which are meant to have 35 to 40 pupils are taught in groups of 70 or 80 which results in overcrowded classrooms and creates problems for teachers.
Without a reliable internet connection, he has to travel to a cyber-cafe to download resources for his science lessons and many of the pupils have to walk for more than four miles to get to school.
Brother Peter’s pupils have enjoyed success in national and international science competitions, including an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry in the UK.