Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Teacher in a million, wins a million!

Kenyan Teacher wins $1million Global Teacher prize. WOW!

From 1961 to 1970, I was a teacher at Menengai High School, Nakuru which had a population then of about 60,000. There was one other high school, Nakuru Secondary School. Both schools, like most Government schools, were well-appointed and had staff members who were graduates and included expatriates from Britain, Canada and the U.S.A. The population of Kenya has grown by leaps and bounds since then with the majority of the young rural hopefuls flocking to urban centres to seek education or employment. I find it hard to believe that the once sleepy town I lived in has become a bustling city of 500,000 in less than 50 years. 

This population explosion has not taken place without a price. There is a shortage of affordable housing so slum areas have come up, resources are strained and unemployment has led to an increase in crime. The school population has sky-rocketed and Government schools can no longer cope with the numbers. Community schools have sprung up to absorb the overflow. Many of these community schools are sadly sub-standard and it takes a very special kind of person to leave a job in a "proper" school and throw his lot in with the rough and tumble of a community school, often called "harambee schools" after the post-independence "harambee" movement where communities attempted to provide for themselves rather than wait for Government to respond to local needs.

This is the background then to an astounding achievement: a Franciscan Brother teaching in one of these ill-equipped schools that would certainly not be allowed to exist in Canada has just won the Global Teacher Award of $1 million!!! Peter Tabichi was presented the award in Dubai in April this year.

Although I left Kenya 44 years ago, I am well aware of the kind of conditions in which Peter worked this miracle. I often helped with in-service sessions for teachers  working in these so-called "Harambee" schools and was appalled at the lack of resources. In one school that I visited, the only books they had were in a tea chest that had come from the U.S.A. The students in that school would become very knowledgeable about J.F. Kennedy but very little else. Science labs and equipment? They would be very lucky to have a room with four walls and some desks, forget test tubes and chemicals! One elementary school Cybele worked at had walls but no doors or a roof.

It is that milieu that you should bear in mind when reading the report below and watching the video that follows. As a retired teacher, I am proud that my profession has the likes of Peter Tibachi to exemplify the dedication to pupils without which a school ceases to be a school.

For details of his achievement please click on: 
For a video of Tibachi receiving his award please click on:

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