Peter Tabichi, a Kenyan professor has won the prestigious Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize at a star-studded event held in Dubai, on Sunday. Tabichi, who teaches mathematics and physics was awarded a cash prize worth $1 million.

The global teacher prize was sponsored by Varkey Foundation that emphasised on teaching, particularly during times when there was a global teacher shortage. The event celebrated teachers, who often received the least amount of appreciation and poor salaries in resource-constrained settings.  Tabichi is the fifth winner of the award, which had previously been won by a British, American, Canadian and Palestinian. Last year’s winner was Andria Zafirakou, who taught arts and textile at Alperton Community School in the UK

Tabichi left his previous private job and joined the Keriko Secondary School located in the Pwani Village, Nakuru, Kenya, where almost 95 percent students belonged to disadvantaged families and a third among them were orphans. Drug abuse, suicide, drop-outs and teenage pregnancies were also common in the village. Moreover, the school had one computer only, with poor internet access and low student-teacher ratio levels of 58:1.

Despite these challenges, Tabichi’s science students have won a number of national-level science competitions and also succeeded in qualifying for the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair 2019, held in the US. In 2017, only 16 out of 59 students of the school took admissions in college, while in 2018 , 26 students went to college.

Tabichi 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.”

The prize was paid over an extended period of 10 years and the winner of the award must employ practises that could be scaled and were innovative as well as impactful for classroom learning. The award also catered to practises that could help children to become global citizens “providing them with a values-based education that equips them for a world where they will potentially live, work and socialise with people from many different nationalities, cultures and religions”.

Tabichi was awarded the prize by international actor Hugh Jackman who also performed music from The Greatest Showman and congratulated all the 10 finalists of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, in a special video message, said Tabichi’s inspiring story showcased that “Africa is a young continent bursting with talent”.

Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize also covers the ‘Global Education and Skills Forum’, a three-day conference which is regarded as the “Davos of education.” Education ministers all over the world and international leaders joined the conference and deliberated on matters pertaining to teaching, technology and learning sciences.

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