(From left) Hugh Jackman, Peter Tabichi, Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan, and Sunny Varkey during the award ceremony. NSTP/HAZLINA AZIZ

DUBAI: A maths and physics teacher Peter Tabichi, 36, from Kenya who gives away 80 per cent of his monthly income to help the poor has been named as the winner of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019.

Tabichi, who teaches at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, situated in a remote, semi-arid part of Kenya’s Rift Valley received his award last night at a glittering award ceremony hosted by actor, singer and producer Hugh Jackman.

The prize was presented by Crown Prince of Dubai and Executive Council Chairman Sheikh Hamdan Mohammad.

Now in its fifth year and the largest prize of its kind, the award is part of the Varkey Foundation’s long-standing commitment to improve the status of teachers.

Tabichi said winning the prize does not recognise him but recognises Africa’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.

“I believe science and technology can play a leading role in unlocking Africa’s potential. We all know that scientific discovery and innovation fuel progress, facilitate development and can tackle issues such as food insecurity, water shortages and climate change.

With only one computer, poor internet, and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, Tabichi’s students must walk 7km along roads that become impassable in the rainy season to go to school.

Enrolment has doubled to 400 over three years at Tabichi’s school, 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.

“As a teacher working on the front line I have seen the promise of its young people – their curiosity, talent, their intelligence, their belief. Africa’s young people will no longer be held back by low expectations. Africa will produce scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs whose names will be one day famous in every corner of the world. And girls will be a huge part of this story,” he added.

Varkey Foundation founder, Sunny Varkey said: “Everyday in classrooms throughout the world teachers light the spark of curiosity. I want to congratulate Peter Tabichi for winning the Global Teacher Prize 2019. I hope Peter’s story will encourage others to enter the teaching profession and shine a spotlight on the truly inspiring work teachers do to make tomorrow brighter than today.”

Malaysian teacher Dr Muhammad Khairul Anuar Hussin from SMK Taman Universiti 2, Johor Bahru who was also at the event as one of the Top 50 Finalists 2019 said he has been from the start pinning hopes for Tabachi to win the award.

“I would like to congratulate Tabichi for winning the award. Being one of the Top 50 finalists has also given me the chance to attend the Global Education & Skills Forum. For two days I had the chance to network and listen to other prominent speakers and inspiring educators from around the world.

Muhammad Khairul who is special educational needs teacher started his career working with blind students who also had a wide range of conditions, from visual impairment and deafness, to autism and Down’s Syndrome. The finalists were selected from over 10,000 nominations and applications from 179 countries around the world.