Franciscan Brother wins global teacher prize

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Franciscan Brother Peter Tabichi, Winner of 2019 Global Teacher Prize. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0
Franciscan Brother Peter Tabichi, Winner of 2019 Global Teacher Prize. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

A Franciscan brother who teaches children from poverty-stricken families in Kenya has been awarded the 2019 Global Teacher Prize and a cool $1 million.

Brother Peter Tabichi OFM was selected from 10,000 nominees for the prestigious prize which he was awarded on 23 March.

“I feel great. I can’t believe it. I feel so happy to be among the best teachers in the world, being the best in the world,” Brother Tabichi said after receiving the award.

“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. This prize gives them a chance. It tells the world that they can do anything.”

Brother Peter Tabichi is presented by actor Hugh Jackman with the award during a ceremony in Dubai.

Brother Tabichi teaches science at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village in Kenya. About 95 per cent of the students at the school live in poverty and 30 per cent are orphans or from single-parents families. A single class can consist of up to 80 students taught by just one teacher.

The 36 year-old teacher said he plans to use the $1 million to improve the school and to help feed the poor. He already donates 80 per cent of his salary to his most disadvantaged students.

Brother Tabichi expressed his confidence that Africa is producing young people with enormous potential and talent.

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

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President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated Brother Tabichi via video-link during the award ceremony.

“Peter—your story is the story of Africa, a young continent bursting with talent,” President Kenyatta said. “Your students have shown that they can compete amongst the best in the world in science, technology and all fields of human endeavour.”

The Global Teacher Prize is awarded by the Varkey Foundation, founded by Indian businessman Sunny Varkey to help raise the standard of education in the developing world.

Mr Varkey said the story of Brother Tabichi winning the prize, the largest of its kind in the world, will “inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over Kenya and throughout the world every day.”