Kenyan who gave earnings to poor wins $1m teacher prize in Dubai - GulfToday

Kenyan who gave earnings to poor wins $1m teacher prize in Dubai

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Kenyan teacher Peter Tabichi (centre) holding up the Global Teacher Prize trophy after winning the $1 million award during an official ceremony in Dubai attended by the Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum. AFP

Imran Mojib, Special Correspondent

Dubai: Crown Prince of Dubai Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum presented the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019 to Kenyan science teacher Peter Tabichi, who won the prize for changing the lives of poor students in a remote village of Kenya.

The award was presented at a glittering award ceremony in Dubai on Sunday, which was hosted by actor-singer Hugh Jackman.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai on Sunday congratulated Peter Tabichi.

Sheikh Mohammed wrote on his official account on Twitter “Congratulations to @petertabichi from Kenya for winning the Varkey Global @TeacherPrize . Teachers are the pioneers of development and the true change makers.”

Now in its fifth year, the $1 million award is the largest prize of its kind, and was set up to recognise one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society.

Peter Tabichi’s dedication, hard work and passionate belief in his students’ talent 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.

Peter Tabichi dedicated the prize to young Africans, mentioned that he won this honour for whatever his students have achieved.

“As a teacher working on the front line I have seen the promise of its young people – their curiosity, talent, their intelligence, their belief. 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,” he said.

He expressed confidence that science and technology can play a leading role in unlocking Africa’s potential as scientific discovery and innovation fuel progress, facilitate development and can tackle issues such as food insecurity, water shortages and climate change.

“It’s morning in Africa. The skies are clear. The day is young and there is a blank page waiting to be written. This is Africa’s time.”

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated Tabichi on behalf of all Kenyans and said that his is a shining example of what the human spirit can achieve.

“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. All we need is together to give them the right support. You give me faith that Africa’s best days are ahead of us and your story will light the way for future generations,” he said in a special congratulatory video message broadcast into the ceremony hall.

Congratulating Peter Tabichi on winning the Global Teacher Prize 2019, Varkey Foundation founder Sunny Varkey expressed hope that Peter’s story will encourage others to enter the teaching profession and shine a spotlight on the truly inspiring work teachers do to make tomorrow brighter than today.

Peter Tabichi teaches Maths and Science in a secondary school situated in a remote village. Ninety-five percent of pupils hail from poor families, almost a third are orphans or have only one parent, and many go without food at home. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common.

Turning lives around in a school with only one computer, poor internet, and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, was no easy task. Undeterred, Peter started a talent nurturing club and expanded the school’s Science Club, helping pupils design research projects of such quality that 60% now qualify for national competitions.

Peter and four colleagues also give low-achieving pupils one-to-one tuition in Maths and Science outside class and on the weekends, where Peter visits students’ homes and meets their families to identify the challenges they face. Through making his students believe in themselves, Peter has dramatically improved his pupils’ achievement and self-esteem.

The original list of top 50 shortlisted teachers was narrowed down to ten finalists by a Prize Committee. The winner was chosen from this ten by the Global Teacher Prize Academy.