Franciscan monk named world’s best teacher

Dubai, 25 Mar : A Franciscan monk who gives away most of his earnings to the poor has been handed a prize for the world’s best teacher.

Peter Tabichi won the $1 million (£760,000) Global Teacher Prize for 2019 on Saturday.

The maths and physics teacher, who works at a secondary school in a remote village in Kenya’s Rift Valley, gives away 80 per cent of his monthly income to the poor, organisers said.

He received the prize at a ceremony in Dubai hosted by Hollywood star Hugh Jackman.

The 39-year-old educator was praised for his achievements in the deprived school with crowded classes and few text books.

Tabichi, or Brother Peter as he is also known, said: ‘It’s not all about money. Every day in Africa we turn a new page and a new chapter… This prize does not recognise me but recognises this great continent’s young people. I am only here because of what my students have achieved.

‘This prize gives them a chance. It tells the world that they can do anything,’ he added after beating nine finalists from around the world to claim the award.

As Tabichi was handed the trophy by the Hollywood actor, he wiped away tears of joy at scooping the prize.

The teacher is a Franciscan monk – a member of the Catholic religious order founded by St Francis of Assisi in the 13th Century.

Tabichi, teaches at the Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani village, in a remote, semi-arid part of Kenya’s Rift Valley, where drought and famine are frequent and many children are orphaned.

The Dubai-based Varkey Foundation, which organises the event and handed out the prize for the fifth time, praised Tabichi’s ‘dedication, hard work and passionate belief in his students’ talent’.

All this combined, it said in a statement, ‘has led his poorly-resource school in remote rural Kenya to emerge victorious after taking on the country’s best schools in national science competitions’.

He said ‘science is the way to go’ for the children’s futures after collecting his award.

Around 95 per cent of the school’s pupils ‘hail from poor families, almost a third are orphans or have only one parent, and many go without food at home,’ the statement added.

‘Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common.’

To get to school, some students have to walk seven kilometres (four miles) along roads that become impassable during the rainy season.

The school, with a student-teacher ration of 58 to 1, has only one desktop computer for the pupils and poor internet, but despite that Tabichi ‘uses ICT in 80 per cent of his lessons to engage students’, the foundation said.

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated Tabichi in a video message, saying ‘your story is the story of Africa, a young continent bursting with talent’.

source: Daily Mail

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