A 36-year-old science teacher from rural Kenya, who donates most of his salary to help poorer students, was crowned the best teacher in the world and awarded a $1 million prize, beating 10,000 nominations from 179 countries.
Peter Tabichi, a math and physics teacher at Pwani Village’s Keriko high school, won the 2019 Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize and was awarded his prize at a ceremony in Dubai hosted by actor Hugh Jackman.
Tabichi provides 80% of his income to help the poorest students in the poorly-equipped and overcrowded school who otherwise could not afford uniforms and books.
More than 90% of his pupils are from poor families and almost a third are orphans or have only one parent. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common.
Students have to walk 7km along roads that can become impassable in the rainy season to reach the school and the area can be affected by drought and famine.
Despite only having one computer, a poor internet connection and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, Tabichi started a “talent nurturing club” and expanded the school’s science club, helping pupils design research projects of such quality that many now qualify for national competitions.
His students have taken part in international science competitions and won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry after harnessing local plant life to generate electricity.
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