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Feb 21, 2019 | Kenya

Kenyan Teacher Peter Tabichi Makes Final 10 For US $1 Million Global Teacher Prize 2019

By Modern Ghana
Kenyan Teacher Peter Tabichi Makes Final 10 For US $1 Million Global Teacher Prize 2019

Hugh Jackman calls teachers “the real superheroes” as he announces top ten finalists in a powerful tribute to the work of teachers around the world

Peter Tabichi, a Maths and Physics teacher at Keriko Secondary School, Pwani Village, Nakuru, Kenya, has been named a top 10 finalist for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019, which is announced today at Now in its fifth year, the US$1 million award is the largest prize of its kind. Peter Tabichi and the other finalists have been selected from over 10,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries around the world.

In a special video message announcing the top ten finalists, actor, singer, and producer Hugh Jackman paid a powerful tribute to the work of teachers around the world. He said:

“When I was a kid there were lots of superheroes that I wanted to be. But I can tell you right now, from where I stand, with all my experience, the real superheroes are teachers – they’re the ones that change the world.”

On making it to the top 10, Peter Tabichi said, “I am pleased, honoured and humbled to be selected from thousands of applicants from around the world to be one of the Top 10 Finalists for the 2019 Prize! I appreciate this great recognition on behalf of all the hardworking teachers throughout the world whose great achievements go unnoticed. This nomination has made me view teachers as superstars that the world needs to recognize. My enormous salute goes to all of this year’s finalists who have transformed and are transforming the lives of learners and that of the society in different ways. Very special thanks to the Global Teacher Prize Team for selecting me.”

Hugh added, “My favourite uncle was a teacher, my sister’s a teacher, my brother’s a teacher, and I have always felt the most important job in the world is teachers. My hope for every single person on the planet is that you have at least one.

“I think of Lisle Jones who was the most influential acting teacher I ever had. Prior to Lisle I could only get to a certain point. He used to say to me things like “You’re standing outside the character.” He said “You’re good. Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine, it’s OK. But what you need to do is to let go and trust.”

“As someone like me who did quite like to control things, that was transformative. And there was a moment for me about 18 months into my course – so this is the patience of a teacher – for 18 months he had to watch me being OK, maybe.

“And I remember this one monologue that I had to give and all of a sudden for me it felt completely different. I felt inside the character. And halfway through – it was a big audience, it was in a theatre – that teacher and his big booming voice, he stood up, and in the dark I just heard this “YES! Finally.”

“All of us go through insecurity and doubt, trepidation, along this journey of life, and those teachers that see the best in us and are patient enough to allow us to grow into that, they are like gold.”

Peter Tabichi is a science teacher who gives away 80% of his monthly income to help the poor. His dedication, hard work and passionate belief in his students’ talent has led his poorly-resourced school in remote rural Kenya to emerge victorious after taking on the country’s best schools in national science competitions.

Peter teaches at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, situated in a remote, semi-arid part of Kenya’s Rift Valley. Here, students from a host of diverse cultures and religions learn in poorly equipped classrooms. Their lives can be tough in a region where drought and famine are frequent. Ninety-five percent of pupils hail from poor families, almost a third are orphans or have only one parent, and many go without food at home. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common.

Turning lives around in a school with only one computer, poor internet, and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, is no easy task, not least when to reach the school, students must walk 7km along roads that become impassable in the rainy season.

Undeterred, Peter started a talent nurturing club and expanded the school’s Science Club, helping pupils design research projects of such quality that 60% now qualify for national competitions. Peter mentored his pupils through the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair 2018 – where students showcased a device they had invented to allow blind and deaf people to measure objects. Peter saw his village school come first nationally in the public schools' category. The Mathematical Science team also qualified to participate at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 in Arizona, USA, for which they’re currently preparing. His students have also won an award from The Royal Society of Chemistry after harnessing local plant life to generate electricity.

Peter and four colleagues also give low-achieving pupils one-to-one tuition in Maths and Science outside class and on the weekends, where Peter visits students’ homes and meets their families to identify the challenges they face. Despite teaching in a school with only one desktop computer with an intermittent connection, Peter uses ICT in 80% of his lessons to engage students, visiting internet cafes and caching online content to be used offline in class.

Through making his students believe in themselves, Peter has dramatically improved his pupils’ achievement and self-esteem. Enrolment has doubled to 400 over three years, and cases of indiscipline have fallen from 30 per week to just three. In 2017, only 16 out of 59 students went on to college, while in 2018, 26 students went to university and college. Girls’ achievement, in particular, has been boosted, with girls now leading boys in all four tests set in the last year. All of this is made possible in a severely resource-constrained school by an exceptional teacher.

Peter is a member of the Franciscan Brotherhood, a religious order.

Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation and the Global Teacher Prize, said:

“I want to congratulate Peter for being selected as a top ten finalist from such a huge number of talented and dedicated teachers. I hope his story will inspire those looking to enter the teaching profession and also shine a powerful spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over Kenya and throughout the world every day.

“The thousands of nominations and applications we received from every corner of the planet is testimony to the achievements of teachers and the enormous impact they have on all of our lives.”

The other nine finalists for the Global Teacher Prize 2019 are:

  • Vladimer Apkhazava, a Civic Education teacher at Chibati Public School, Tbilisi, Georgia;
  • Deborah Garofalo , the Technologies for Learning teacher at EMEF Admiral Ary Parreiras, São Paulo, Brazil;
  • Daisy Mertens, an all subjects teacher at community-based school De Vuurvogel, Helmond, Netherlands;
  • Andrew Moffat MBE, a Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) teacher from Parkfield Community School, Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom;
  • Of Rawal Swaroop , a the Teacher as the Life Skills, Lavad at the Primary one, School, Gujarat,

  • Melissa Salguero, a Music teacher at P.S.48 Joseph R Drake elementary school, the Bronx, New York, United States;
  • Martin SalvettiHead of Automative Studies and Adult Professional Training, at EEST N°5 "2 de Abril" Temperley, Temperley, Buenos Aires, Argentina;
  • Yasodai Selvakumaran, a history and society and culture teacher, at Rooty Hill High School, New South Wales, Australia;
  • Hidekazu Shoto, an English language and ICT teacher at Ritsumeikan Primary School, Kyoto, Japan.

The Global Teacher Prize was set up to recognize one exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession as well as to shine a spotlight on the important role teachers play in society. By unearthing thousands of stories of heroes that have transformed young people’s lives, the prize hopes to bring to life the exceptional work of teachers all over the world.

The top ten have been narrowed down from the top 50 shortlist that was announced in December 2018. By highlighting their stories the Varkey Foundation hopes that the public will be able to join in passionate debates about the importance of teachers. The winner will be announced at the Global Education & Skills Forum in Dubai on Sunday 24 March 2019.

1. The Varkey Foundation believes every child deserves a vibrant, stimulating learning environment that awakens and supports their full potential. We believe nothing is more important to achieving this than the passion and quality of teachers. We founded the Global Teacher Prize to shine a spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over the world and we continue to play a leading role in influencing education debates on the status of teachers around the world.

2. The Top 50 shortlisted teachers were narrowed down to the final Top 10 teachers by a Prize Committee. The winner will then be chosen from these Top 10 finalists by the Global Teacher Prize Academy. The Prize Committee and the Academy look for evidence that applicants for the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize meet the following criteria:

  • Employing effective instructional practices that are replicable and scalable to influence the quality of education globally.
  • Employing innovative instructional practices that address the particular challenges of the school, community or country and which have shown sufficient evidence to suggest they could be effective in addressing such challenges in a new way.
  • Achieving demonstrable student learning outcomes in the classroom.
  • Impact in the community beyond the classroom that provide unique and distinguished models of excellence for the teaching profession and others.
  • Helping children become global citizens through providing them with a values-based education that equips them for a world where they will potentially live, work and socialise with people from many different nationalities, cultures and religions.
  • Improving the teaching profession through helping to raise the bar of teaching, sharing best practice, and helping colleagues overcome any challenges they face in their school.
  • Teacher recognition from governments, national teaching organisations, head-teachers, colleagues, members of the wider community or pupils.

3.The Global Teacher Prize Academy includes prominent names such as Wendy Kopp, co-founder and CEO of Teach for All; Brett Wigdortz, founder of Teach First, James E Ryan, Dean and Professor, Harvard Graduate School of Education, United States,Jeffrey D. Sachs, world-renowned professor of economics and special advisor to the UN and Lewis Pugh, the only person to have completed a long distance swim in every ocean of the world.

4. The Global Teacher Prize winner will be paid the prize money in equal installments over ten years, and the Varkey Foundation will provide the winner with financial counseling. Without compromising their work in the classroom, the winner will be asked to serve as a global ambassador for the Varkey Foundation, attending public events and speaking in public forums about improving the prestige of the teaching profession.

schooling, or are between the ages of five and eighteen. Teachers who teach children age 4+ in an Early Years government-recognised curriculum are also eligible, as are teachers who teach on a part-time basis, and teachers of online courses. Teachers must spend at least 10 hours per week teaching children and plan to remain in the profession for the next 5 years. It is open to teachers in every kind of school and, subject to local laws, in every country in the world. Applications for the 2019 prize opened on Wednesday 6 June 2018 and closed on 23 September 2018 with teachers able to apply in English, Mandarin, Arabic, French, Spanish, Portuguese and Russian.

6. PwC will be responsible for ensuring that the balloting process is fair and accurate. Criminal record and other background checks will be conducted on the shortlisted candidates. Top ten finalists from Global Teacher Prize 2018 could not apply for Global Teacher Prize 2019.

7. The Global Teacher Prize is part of the Varkey Foundation’s long-standing commitment to improve the status of teachers. In November 2013, the foundation published the Global Teacher Status Index, the first attempt to compare attitudes towards teachers in 21 countries. The index found that there were significant differences between the status of teachers worldwide. The survey also found that in many countries, between a third and half of parents would “probably” or “definitely not” encourage their children to enter the teaching profession. In November 2018 the Varkey Foundation revisited the theme and widened its scope, polling over 40,000 people in 35 countries. The Global Teacher Status Index 2018 showed for the first time a direct link between teacher status and pupil performance as measured by PISA scores. Countries with higher teacher status are more likely to record higher PISA scores, the report demonstrated, showing high teacher status can lead to greater student outcomes in a country. The full Global Teacher Status Indexes can be found at:

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