Kenyan Teacher wins $1 Million global teacher prize

March 28, 2019 Stories


Peter Tabichi who is a Math and Science teacher from rural Kenya who gives 80% of his teaching salary to local community projects, including education, sustainable agriculture, has won the $1 million prize for the world’s best teacher, beating 10,000 other nominations from 179 countries.

36-year-old Peter Tabichi, a science teacher from Kenya who gives away 80 percent of his monthly income to help the less privileged, has won the global teacher prize for 2019. He was awarded the sum of $1 million which he received at the prize ceremony yesterday in Atlantis, Dubai.

Tabichi teaches math and science at Keriko secondary school in Pwani Village, Nakuru, a county northwest of Nairobi. The school is ill-equipped with just a computer, poor internet and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1. Life in the village can be tough due to frequent drought and famine, making most of Tabichi’s students are poor and orphaned. Many attend school hungry, unable to afford meals. Students walk 7km along bad roads to get to school. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, early marriages, and dropping out of school are also common.

In the face of these hard conditions, Tabichi started a talent nurturing club and expanded the school’s Science Club, helping students design research projects of such quality that 60 percent of them now qualify for national and international competitions. He mentored his students through the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair 2018, where they showcased a device they had invented to allow blind and deaf people to measure objects. There they came first place in the public schools’ category.

The Mathematical Science team also qualified to participate at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 in Arizona, USA, for which they’re currently preparing. Tabichi’s students have also won an award from The Royal Society of Chemistry for harnessing local plant life to generate electricity. His hard work, dedication, and passionate belief in his students have led to so many victories and given them the opportunity to compete with their peers not just on a national level but on a global level.

“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.”

– Peter Tabichi.

Along with four other colleagues, Tabichi offers one on one tuition in Mathematics and Science to low-achieving students after school hours and on weekends when he visits their homes and meets families to identify their challenges. He also endeavours to engage his students with ICT visiting internet cafes and downloading content to be used offline in class. By making his students confident in their abilities, Tabichi has dramatically improved their achievement and self-esteem.

Enrolment in Keriko has doubled to 400 over three years with fewer cases of indiscipline. In 2017, only 16 of 59 students went on to college, but last year, 26 students went to university and college. Female students are particularly leading the pack with girls currently leading boys in all four tests set in the last year. “Seeing my learners grow in knowledge, skills and confidence is my greatest joy in teaching,” Tabichi said.

“When they become resilient, creative and productive in the society, I get a lot of satisfaction for I act as their greatest destiny enabler and key that unlocks their potential in the most exciting manner.” President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated Tabichi in a video message, saying his story is the story of Africa, “a young continent bursting with talent”.

The Global Teacher Prize is a $1 million award presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to their profession. The Prize serves to underline the importance of educators and the fact that, throughout the world, their efforts deserve to be recognised and celebrated. It seeks to acknowledge the impacts of the very best teachers, not only on their students but on the communities around them.

The Prize was established by Sunny Varkey, Chairman of the Varkey Foundation, whose parents were both teachers. It is awarded under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Prime Minister and Vice President of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai. The Prize has grown tremendously since its inception with over 30,000 applications and nominations last year.

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