A maths and physics teacher from the Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani village in Kenya’s Rift Valley has beaten nine finalists from around the world and won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize for 2019. He received the prize at a ceremony in Dubai on Saturday.
The event was organised by the Dubai-based Varkey Foundation. This year they awarded the prize for the fifth time. The organisers praised Peter Tabichi’s “dedication, hard work and passionate belief in his students’ talent”. The 36-year-old teacher “has led his poorly-resourced school in remote rural Kenya to emerge victorious after taking on the country’s best schools in national science competitions”.
“Every day in Africa we turn a new page and a new chapter… This prize does not recognise me but recognises this great continent’s young people. I am only here because of what my students have achieved,” Tabichi said.
“This prize gives them a chance. It tells the world that they can do anything,” he added.
Tabichi is teaching in very difficult conditions. The school has a pupil-teacher ratio of 58 to 1. There is only one desktop computer and very slow internet, yet Tabichi “uses ICT in 80 percent of his lessons to engage students”.
Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common in the area, where drought and famine are frequent. Around 95 percent of the school’s pupils “hail from poor families, almost a third are orphans or have only one parent, and many go without food at home”. Tabichi is trying to overcome all this by giving away 80 percent of his monthly income to the poor.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated Tabichi in a video message, saying “your story is the story of Africa, a young continent bursting with talent”.