Brother Peter Tabichi: Kenyan Franciscan is the world’s best teacher

30 March 2019
Franciscan brother Brother Peter Tabichi at the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize. Image: Vatican News.


Brother Peter Tabichi, a Franciscan brother and teacher, has walked away with the US$1 million Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize on Sunday at a ceremony in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Brother Peter was chosen out of 10,000 nominations coming from 179 countries. His win was announced at the Global Education and Skills Forum over the weekend.

Brother Peter teaches Maths and Science at a rural Kenyan school in Pwani Village, the Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School. It is located in a semi-arid part of Kenya’s Rift Valley. The school has only one desktop computer, poor Internet and a learner-teacher ratio of 58:1. Nearly all his students are from poor families, and almost a third of them are orphans or have only one parent.

Learners face many challenges

The learners in Brother Tabachi’s school face many challenges. Living in a drought-prone region, many go to school without food. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, early-child marriages and suicides are common. Nevertheless, at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School, enrolment has doubled, and more of the learners are now going on to college and university. Girls, in particular, are performing well.

It was also reported that routinely, Brother Peter has been donating 80% of his salary to help poorer learners.

Last year, he mentored his learners through the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair 2018 – where students came first in a national competition of the public school’s category. The Mathematical Science team also qualified to participate at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 in Arizona, USA.

Seeing my students grow in confidence is my greatest joy

The Varkey Foundation quotes Brother Peter as saying, “Seeing my learners grow in knowledge, skills and confidence is my greatest joy in teaching! When they become resilient, creative and productive in society, I get a lot of satisfaction for I act as their greatest destiny enabler and key that unlocks their potential in the most exciting manner.”

Brother Peter uses online educational material in his classes, a very challenging task due to poor Internet connection in the area. This sees him visiting various Internet cafes to download content for use in class – offline.

One-to-one tuition for low-achieving learners

Brother Tabachi and four colleagues also give low-achieving learners one-to-one tuition in Maths and Science outside class and on the weekends where Brother Peter visits students’ homes and meets their families to identify challenges they face.

The Global Teacher Prize was set-up by the Varkey Foundation to enhance the respect, reward and celebrate teachers around the world. It does this by shining the spotlight on great teachers and sharing their remarkable stories. Ultimately, the intention is also to inspire the best possible candidates to join the teaching profession.

With thanks to Vatican News and the Africa Service, where this article originally appeared.


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