Peter Tabichi, a Maths and Physics teacher at Keriko Secondary School, Pwani Village, Nakuru, Kenya, has emerged the only African among the top 10 finalists for the $1million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019.
The other nine teachers on the list are Vladimer Apkhazava, a Civic Education teacher at Chibati Public School, Tbilisi, Georgia; Deborah Garofalo , the Technologies for Learning teacher at EMEF Admiral Ary Parreiras, São Paulo, Brazil;
Daisy Mertens, an all subjects teacher at community-based school De Vuurvogel, Helmond, Netherlands; Andrew Moffat MBE, a Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) teacher from Parkfield Community School, Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom.
Also on the list are Of Rawal Swaroop , a Teacher of Life Skills, Lavad at the Primary one, School, Gujarat,
Melissa Salguero, a Music teacher at P.S.48 Joseph R Drake elementary school, the Bronx, New York, United States; Martin Salvetti, Head of Automative Studies and Adult Professional Training, at EEST N°5 “2 de Abril” Temperley, Temperley, Buenos Aires, Argentina; Yasodai Selvakumaran, a history and society and culture teacher, at Rooty Hill High School, New South Wales, Australia;and Hidekazu Shoto, an English language and ICT teacher at Ritsumeikan Primary School, Kyoto, Japan.
Now in its fifth year, the US$1 million award is the largest prize of its kind.
Kenyan Peter Tabichi and the other finalists were selected from over 10,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries around the world.
Nigerian teacher, Soji Megbowon, who teaches Mathematics and Computer Science at Jakande Comprehensive Senior College, Abesan, Lagos, was in the shortlist of 50 teachers initially considered for the award. He is now out of the race.
In a special video message announcing the top ten finalists, actor, singer, and producer Hugh Jackman paid a powerful tribute to the work of teachers around the world. He said:
“When I was a kid there were lots of superheroes that I wanted to be. But I can tell you right now, from where I stand, with all my experience, the real superheroes are teachers – they’re the ones that change the world.”
On making it to the top 10, Peter Tabichi said, “I am pleased, honoured and humbled to be selected from thousands of applicants from around the world to be one of the Top 10 Finalists for the 2019 Prize! I appreciate this great recognition on behalf of all the hardworking teachers throughout the world whose great achievements go unnoticed.
“This nomination has made me view teachers as superstars that the world needs to recognize. My enormous salute goes to all of this year’s finalists who have transformed and are transforming the lives of learners and that of the society in different ways. Very special thanks to the Global Teacher Prize Team for selecting me.”
Peter Tabichi is a science teacher who gives away 80% of his monthly income to help the poor. His 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 teaches at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, situated in a remote, semi-arid part of Kenya’s Rift Valley. Here, students from a host of diverse cultures and religions learn in poorly equipped classrooms. Their lives can be tough in a region where drought and famine are frequent. 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, is no easy task, not least when to reach the school, students must walk 7km along roads that become impassable in the rainy season.
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 mentored his pupils through the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair 2018 – where students showcased a device they had invented to allow blind and deaf people to measure objects. Peter saw his village school come first nationally in the public schools category.
The Mathematical Science team also qualified to participate at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 in Arizona, USA, for which they’re currently preparing.
His students have also won an award from The Royal Society of Chemistry after harnessing local plant life to generate electricity.
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. Despite teaching in a school with only one desktop computer with an intermittent connection, Peter uses ICT in 80% of his lessons to engage students, visiting internet cafes and caching online content to be used offline in class.
Through making his students believe in themselves, Peter has dramatically improved his pupils’ achievement and self-esteem. Enrolment has doubled to 400 over three years, and cases of indiscipline have fallen from 30 per week to just three. In 2017, only 16 out of 59 students went on to college, while in 2018, 26 students went to university and college. Girls’ achievement in particular has been boosted, with girls now leading boys in all four tests set in the last year. All of this is made possible in a severely resource constrained school by an exceptional teacher.
Peter is a member of the Franciscan Brotherhood, a religious order.
Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize, said:
“I want to congratulate Peter for being selected as a top ten finalist from such a huge number of talented and dedicated teachers. I hope his story will inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and also shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over Kenya and throughout the world every day.
“The thousands of nominations and applications we received from every corner of the planet is testimony to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives.”
The Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognize 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. By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of teachers all over the world.
The top ten have been narrowed down from the top 50 shortlist that was announced in December 2018.
By highlighting their stories the Varkey Foundation hopes that the public will be able to join in passionate debates about the importance of teachers. The winner will be announced at the Global Education & Skills Forum in Dubai on Sunday 24 March 2019.