Wednesday, 24 Apr 2024

Kenyan Teacher Who Aids Poor Wins $1 Million Global Prize

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A Kenyan science teacher from a remote village who gave away most of his earnings to the poor and tutored students on the weekends won a $1 million prize on Sunday that honors one exceptional educator from around the world.

The teacher, Peter Tabichi, was selected from 10,000 applicants for the Global Teacher Prize. He teaches in the semiarid village of Pwani, where almost one-third of children are orphans or have one parent, and where drought and famine are frequent.

Classrooms are poorly equipped, and the school, which teaches students 11 to 16 years old, has one computer with intermittent internet access.

Congratulations to @PeterTabichi, the 2019 Global Teacher Prize Winner! #TeacherPrize

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

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

The prize was awarded during a ceremony hosted by the actor Hugh Jackman. Dubai’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, was on hand to present the prize.

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

The Kenyan president, Uhuru Kenyatta, said in a statement that Mr. Tabichi’s success “is the story of Africa.”

“You give me faith that Africa’s best days are ahead of us, and your story will light the way for future generations,” Mr. Kenyatta said.

Now in its fifth year, the prize is the largest of its kind, and it has quickly become one of the most coveted and prestigious awards for teachers.

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

Other finalists for the 2019 prize were teachers in the United States, including Melissa Salguero in the Bronx, Eric Crouch in Columbus, Ga., and Brian McDaniel in Desert Hot Springs, Calif.

Each year, the winner is selected by committees composed of teachers, educational experts, journalists, officials, entrepreneurs, business leaders and scientists from around the world.

Last year, an art teacher was awarded for her work in one of the most ethnically diverse places in Britain. Her work was credited with helping students feel welcome and safe in a borough with high murder rates.

Other winners include a Canadian teacher for her work with indigenous students in a remote and isolated Arctic village where suicide rates are high, and a Palestinian teacher for her work in helping West Bank refugee children traumatized by violence.

The 2015 inaugural winner was a teacher from Maine who founded a nonprofit demonstration school created to develop and disseminate teaching methods.

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