Peter Tabichi is a teacher from Kenya who recently won a US$1 million Global Teacher Prize given by the Varkey Foundation. What makes him special is that Tabichi gives away almost 80 percent of his monthly salary to help poor kids. He was selected from almost 10,000 nominations and received the prize from actor Hugh Jackman at an event in Dubai.
The teacher with a big heart
Tabichi teaches at his school in Pwani Village with “only one computer, poor internet and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1. Nearly all his students are from poor families, and almost a third of them are orphans or have only one parent. Tabichi gets online educational content by visiting internet cafes and using them offline in class,” according to CNN.
The kids at his school have to walk almost 4 miles to get their education, with some of the roads becoming impassable when it rains heavily. Tabichi, together with four of his colleagues, often provide one-to-one tutoring for struggling students on subjects like math and science. He also visits the families of the kids to understand the challenges they face. Due to his efforts, student enrollment has doubled in about three years.
The founder of the Varkey Foundation, Sunny Varkey, was full of praise for Tabichi and hoped that others would be inspired by his story to enter the profession and help out children. The President of Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta, congratulated Tabichi through a video message. Tabichi is the fifth winner of the prize. Last year’s winner was an art teacher from England.
Tabichi is hoping that people from his continent get to top positions in society soon. “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… I believe science and technology can play a leading role in unlocking Africa’s potential. It’s morning in Africa. The skies are clear. This is Africa’s time,” he said in a statement (The Guardian).
Challenges for Kenyan education
The Kenyan education system faces several challenges, with poor academic standards and lack of adequate infrastructure being primary areas of concern. Transition rates are pretty low from primary to secondary, from secondary to higher education, and from higher education to special fields. The curriculum is said to be outdated for vocational education and training. The government rarely appoints new teachers due to cost concerns. The only time new teachers are hired is when an existing teacher dies or resigns.
In densely populated areas, the pupil-to-teacher ratio is high, which affects the quality of education received by the children. Reliable data on the education of children with special needs is not available, which makes it difficult to create programs aimed at them. There are no clear guidelines about non-formal education programs. When it comes to adult literacy, there is a shortfall of teachers as well as teaching materials. Lack of motivation discourages growth in adult education.
Among girls, education is quite low in regions that are extremely poor and suffer from gender prejudices. In some of these areas, enrollment rates for girls are as low as 19 percent. For every five girls who join the first year at school, only one makes it to the eighth year. The high dropout rates are largely due to poverty, early marriages, and similar factors.