The world is full of inspiring educators. Whether they’re offering mental health support or making the most out of limited resources, countless teachers across the globe go above and beyond for their pupils. In order to shine a spotlight on these remarkable role models, the Varkey Foundation annually awards one “exceptional teacher” with a million-dollar Global Teacher Prize. During this year’s star-studded ceremony in Dubai, Peter Tabichi, a teacher from Kenya, was crowned the coveted winner.
Tabichi was among 10,000 contenders from 179 countries, including India, the Netherlands, Brazil, Japan, Argentina, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He teaches math and science at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, a remote part of Kenya’s Rift Valley. Most of his students, who are from poor backgrounds, walk several miles to reach school, where they share a single computer and have limited supplies.
However, thanks to Tabichi’s own selflessness (he donates 80% of his modest paycheck to aid the school’s development) and, most importantly, his innovative teaching methods, his students thrive. “Creativity is very important,” he tells The National, “especially in challenging situations and resource constrained environments.” And now, with a much-needed 1 million dollars, the successes of his community’s students is sure to greatly improve.
“I wish to have a modern school laboratory and come up with projects that will empower the community,” he explains. “Things like kitchen gardening and growing drought-tolerant crops. That will address challenges like food insecurity. Where I come from there is poverty and no food. With this award, I can come up with projects that benefit the people in the society where I work and teach.”
Fittingly, in addition to working as an educator, Tabichi has also been a Franciscan friar for seven years. He decided to join the brotherhood when he left his previous post at a private school and realized his true calling: serving the poor. “It is in giving that you receive,” he says. “When you give, God has his own way of rewarding you.”