A science teacher from rural Kenya, who gives most of his salary to help poor students, has won a $1million (£756,000) prize for being ‘the world’s best teacher’. Peter Tabichi, who has won this year’s Global Teacher Prize, teaches high schoolers in the village of Pwani, where almost a third of children are orphans or have only one parent. The government has one computer, shoddy internet access, no library and no laboratory so Peter, a member of the Franciscan Catholic Brotherhood, who gives away 80% of his monthly income, plans to use his prize money to improve the school and feed the poor.
Despite the obstacles Brother Peter’s students face, he’s credited with helping many stays in school, qualify for international competitions in science and engineering and go on to college.
After his win, he said: ‘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.’
Speaking of his students, he added: ‘At times, whenever I reflect on the challenges they face, I shed tears.’ Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said Brother Peter’s story is ‘the story of Africa’ and of hope for future generations. He wore a plain floor-length brown robe to receive the award from Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. His trip to the ceremony at the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai, hosted by Hugh Jackman, was the first time he had flown in a plane. He hadn’t travelled further than Uganda before the prestigious ceremony, which is in its fifth year.
The prize is awarded by the Varkey Foundation, a global charity working to improve the education of impoverished children. In his acceptance speech, Tabuchi said his mother died when he 11, leaving his father, a primary school teacher, with the job of raising his family alone.
He thanked his father for instilling Christian values in him before inviting him up on stage from the audience and handing him the award to the sound of cheers. Jackman said he found the night to be ‘incredibly emotional’ and ‘very moving.’ ‘It was a great honour, a thrill to be here and I just thought the whole evening was just filled with a really pure spirit,’ added the Greatest Showman star. Tabuchi was selected out of 10,000 applicants for the prize, the winner of which is chosen by committees of teachers, journalists, officials, entrepreneurs, business leaders and scientists.