Peter Tabichi is an incredible man. This compassionate teacher hails from Kenya. Peter teaches at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, situated in a remote, semi-arid part of Kenya’s Rift Valley. He teaches the poorest of the poor where they have only one computer in the school. As an ex-teacher I couldn’t believe the ratio of teacher to students in his classroom it was 58:1 and back in the days when I was teaching in Great Britain my ration was 30:1. Peter is a Christian and belongs to the Franciscan religious order. He has no option but to teach in an overcrowded classroom within an overcrowded school. His secondary school students cannot even afford to have breakfast before they come to school. Many have to walk miles to get there.
According to the London Guardian newspaper: ‘More than 90% of his pupils are from poor families and almost a third are orphans or have only one parent. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common. Students have to walk 7km along roads that can become impassable in the rainy season to reach the school and the area can be affected by drought and famine. Despite only having one computer, a poor internet connection and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, Tabichi started a “talent nurturing club” and expanded the school’s science club, helping pupils design research projects of such quality that many now qualify for national competitions.
His students have taken part in international science competitions and won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry after harnessing local plant life to generate electricity. Tabichi and four colleagues also give struggling pupils one-to-one tuition in math and science, visiting students’ homes and meeting their families to identify the challenges they face. Enrolment at the school has doubled to 400 over three years and girls’ achievement in particular has been boosted. ‘
This man has such a heart of compassion. I see him as the embodiment of a compassionate leader. He reaches out in love and care ‘to the least of these,’ in His name. I am reminded of Mathew Chapter 25 verse 35: ‘For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.’ Peter Tabichi cares for his students. He is bringing out the best in them. He is an inspirational teacher. Peter makes his students believe in themselves. With just one computer he uses it for 80% of his lessons and visits internet cafes and catches content he can use in his classroom. These students who come from very poor families are going on to amazing heights. To think his students have won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry in London, in the United Kingdom. The President of Kenya said in a video message: “Peter, your story is the story of Africa, a young continent bursting with talent.”
God always honors and blesses those who reach out in love and compassion to the poor. Jesus said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. ” God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Peter was giving 80% of his monthly income to help the poor. Well he has been rewarded for his selfless generosity. Peter Tabichi was crowned the world’s best teacher and awarded a $1m prize, beating 10,000 nominations from 179 countries. He won the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019 and was awarded his prize at a ceremony in Dubai hosted by Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman. Peter said he wants to use the million dollars to make his school a model school that is an example to Africa.
What a shining example of Compassionate Leadership in Kenya. Let’s hope that by winning this prestigious prize that people around the world will donate funds to help and support these students who come from very poor families.
Films on Peter Tabichi courtesy of youtube.
Photograph of Peter Tabichi courtesy of the Varkey Foundation: https://www.globalteacherprize.org/winners/peter-tabichi/
Here is an article from the London Guardian on Peter Tabichi winning his $1 million global award: https://www.theguardian.com/education/2019/mar/24/kenyan-science-teacher-peter-tabichi-wins-1m-global-award