Peter Tabichi who donates 80% of his salary to poor wins $1m global teacher prize

Peter Tabichi, a maths and physics teacher from a secondary school in a remote village in Kenya’s Rift Valley has won the $1 million Global Teacher Prize for 2019.

Peter Tabichi, who gave away most of his earnings to the poor won The annual Global Teacher Prize on Sunday for his work teaching in a government-run school that has just one computer and shoddy Internet access.

The annual Global Teacher Prize was awarded to Peter Tabichi in the opulent Atlantis Hotel in Dubai in a ceremony hosted by actor Hugh Jackman.

Tabichi was chosen from the top 10 finalists who come from all corners of the globe. Now in its fifth year, the prize is the largest of its kind. It’s quickly become one of the most coveted and prestigious for teachers. Tabichi selected out of out 10,000 applicants.

The winner is selected by committees comprised of teachers, journalists, officials, entrepreneurs, business leaders and scientists.

Peter Tabichi
Kenyan teacher Peter Tabichi, centre, reacts after winning the $1 million Global Teacher Prize in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Sunday, March 24, 2019. Tabichi is a science teacher who gives away 80 per cent of his income to the poor in the remote Kenyan village of Pwani.

In his acceptance speech, Tabichi said his mother died when he was just 11 years old, leaving his father, a primary school teacher, with the job of raising him and his siblings alone.

“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 at the event on Saturday.

“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,” he added.

Tabichi thanked his father for instilling Christian values in him, then pointed to his father in the audience, invited him up on stage and handed him the award to hold as the room erupted in applause and cheers.

Tabichi said the farthest he’d travelled before this was to Uganda. Coming to Dubai marked his first time on an airplane.

Tabichi teaches science to high schoolers in the semi-arid village of Pwani where almost a third of children are orphans or have only one parent. Drought and famine are common.

He said the school has no library and no laboratory. He plans to use the million dollars from his win to improve the school and feed the poor.

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Despite the obstacles Tabichi’s students face, he’s credited with helping many stay in school, qualify for international competitions in science and engineering and go on to college.

“At times, whenever I reflect on the challenges they face, I shed tears,” he said of his students, adding that his win will help give them confidence.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement that Tabichi’s story “is the story of Africa” and of hope for future generations.

As a member of the Roman Catholic brotherhood, Tabichi wore a plain floor-length brown robe to receive the award presented by Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The prize is awarded by the Varkey Foundation, whose founder, Sunny Varkey, established the for-profit GEMS Education company that runs 55 schools in the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Qatar.

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