A Kenyan teacher who gave away the majority of his earnings to the poor has been awarded a highly competitive $1 million prize.
Peter Tabichi teaches science to high school students in the remote village of Pwani, where almost a third of children are orphans or only have one parent, and drought and famine are common.
The school has no library or laboratory, and just one computer. But despite the lack of resources and the challenges the students face, Peter has been credited with helping many stay in school, qualify for international competitions in science and engineering, and go on to college, Associated Press report.
Reflecting on his time teaching, Peter said:
At times, whenever I reflect on the challenges [the students] face, I shed tears.
This weekend, the educator was awarded the Global Teacher Prize in a ceremony hosted by actor Hugh Jackman. Peter traveled to the Atlantis Hotel in Dubai for the event, marking the first time he’d ever flown on a plane.
The prize, which is the biggest of its kind, was awarded by the Varkey Foundation. The teacher was selected from 10,000 applicants by committees comprised of teachers, journalists, officials, entrepreneurs, business leaders and scientists.
After his win, Peter told Associated Press:
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.
He plans to use the prize money to feed the poor and help improve the school, and said his win would help give his students confidence. In his acceptance speech, he thanked his father for instilling Christian values in him.
Peter explained his mother died when he was just 11 years old, leaving his dad, who worked as a primary school teacher, to raise him and his siblings alone.
The winner invited his father up on stage and handed over the award as the room cheered.
The Greatest Showman star Jackman, who performed some of the hit film’s songs at the event, said he felt honoured to be in attendance.
I found tonight to be incredibly emotional, very moving. It was a great honor, a thrill to be here and I just thought the whole evening was just filled with a really pure spirit.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta reportedly released a statement about the win, saying Peter’s story ‘is the story of Africa’ and of hope for future generations.
The teacher was certainly deserving of the prize. Congratulations, Peter!
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.