News Good News Kenyan science teacher wins $1.4m global prize

Kenyan science teacher wins $1.4m global prize

peter tabichi top teacher
Peter Tabichi at work at his remote Kenyan school. Photo: Varkey Foundation
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A science teacher from rural Kenya, who gives away most of his salary to help poorer pupils, has won a $1.4 million prize for the world’s best teacher.

Peter Tabichi, a member of the Franciscan religious order, won the Varkey Foundation’s 2019 Global Teacher Prize.

The British charity focuses on improving the standards of education for underprivileged children. Brother Peter’s award, presented at a ceremony in Dubai on Saturday, recognises the “exceptional” teacher’s commitment to pupils in a remote part of Kenya’s Rift Valley.

Brother Peter, 36, gives away 80 per cent of his monthly income to help support pupils who otherwise not be able to buy uniforms or books.

Of his pupils at the remote Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School, 95 per cent are from poor families, almost a third are orphans or have only one parent, and many go without food at home.

“Turning lives around in a school with only one computer, poor internet, and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, is no easy task, not least when to reach the school, students must walk seven kilometres along roads that become impassable in the rainy season,” the Varkey Foundation said.

Brother Peter started a talent nurturing club at the school, and expanded its science club. In 2018, his students won top honours at the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair, while the mathematical science team qualified for the 2019 INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 in Arizona.

Students have also won an award from The Royal Society of Chemistry after harnessing local plant life to generate electricity.

Brother Peter was chosen from 10 finalists for the $1.4 million top prize. Earlier, he told Kenya’s Standard newspaper he was “pleased, honoured and humbled” to be among the top 10.

“I appreciate this great recognition on behalf of all the hard-working teachers throughout the world whose great achievements go unnoticed,” he said.

“This nomination has made me view teachers as superstars that the world needs to recognise.”