NAIROBI, Kenya — What happens when you give a Franciscan $1 million?
He gives it away.
At least that’s what Franciscan Brother Peter Tabichi plans to do with the $1-million prize he won March 23, which came alongside the 2019 Global Teacher Prize, which he received at a conference Saturday in Dubai.
“This prize does not recognize me but recognizes 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,” Brother Peter said.
The brother is a science teacher at a school in rural Kenya.
Chosen from among 10,000 nominees, Brother Peter will also become global ambassador for the Varkey Foundation, which established the award. The international organization, founded in 2010 by Indian businessman Sunny Varkey, looks to raise the standards of education for students across the developing world.
In Kenya’s Rift Valley, afflicted by drought, violence and drug abuse, many students have either been orphaned or are being raised by only one parent.
Brother Peter teaches science and math at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, Kenya. The school is in need of resources and equipment and has a student-teacher ratio of 58:1.
The Franciscan brother often walks 4 miles to a cybercafe to download educational material for his lessons. He also donates 80% of his income to aid poor students and intends to donate his prize money to support the school.
Under his instruction, the school’s students have had success at national and international science competitions. More students have also been able to attend college, and girls’ tests scores have particularly seen an increase.
Last year, his students won first place in the public-school category at the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair 2018. The students submitted a device allowing blind and deaf people to measure objects. The team is preparing to participate in the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 in Arizona.
Over a video conference at the event, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta congratulated the Franciscan brother.
“Peter, your story is the story of Africa, a young continent bursting with talent. Your students have shown that they can compete amongst the best in the world in science, technology and all fields of human endeavor.”