Kenyan teacher scoops 2019 Global Teacher award of Sh100 million

Peter Tabichi Mokaya (centre) dressed in dark brown robe hold trophy high in jubilation after winning the award. [Photo: Courtesy]

By Agencies

Peter Tabichi Mokaya, a teacher at Keriko High School in Nakuru County emerged the overall winner of Global Teacher Prize, bagging Sh100 million (USD1 Million).

According to Varkey Foundation, Global Teacher Prize awards ‘real superheroes’ who are real champions for change, inspiring millions of learners across the globe.

In the rare event graced by famous musicians including Little Mix, who headlined the event, together with Rita Ora and Liam Payne, exceptional teachers were paid tribute for their contributions to ‘one of the world’s most important professions’

In the event, the foundation earlier noted “The musicians will be joined on stage by the Top 10 Finalists of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize, where the spotlight will turn to the teachers, whose inspirational stories will be shared with a live audience”.

In the recognition, Mr Mokaya is recognised for his contributions as a science teacher who gives away 80 percent of his monthly income to help the poor.

“His dedication, hard work and passionate belief in his student’s talent has led his poorly-resourced school in remote rural Kenya to emerge victorious after taking on the country’s best schools in national science competitions,” global teacher prize noted.

Turning lives around in a school with only one computer, poor internet, and a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, the organisation notes, is no easy task‘ not least when to reach the school, students must walk 7km along roads that become impassable in the rainy season’

His efforts of nurturing the students in the Science Club, propelling them to national and international engineering fairs, has earned his students an award from The Royal Society of Chemistry.

“Despite teaching in a school with only one desktop computer with an intermittent connection, Peter uses ICT in 80 percent of his lessons to engage students, visiting internet cafes and caching online content to be used offline in class,” read’s Mr Mokaya’s tribute. 

Through making his students believe in themselves, he is also recognised for dramatically improved his pupils’ achievement and self-esteem. 

Keriko Day Secondary School in the remote parts of Pwani village fits a description of a real village school, struggling against the many odds to produce the best and make a name, and perhaps roar amidst the giant schools. Mr Mokaya, the Chemistry and Mathematics teacher in the school is however scripting the tale here- his contributions in the remote school that despite having a single computer to its name in finally in the global map.

Mr Mokaya, who also doubles up as a Franciscan Brother popped up among the top ten ‘real super heroes’ globally battling for the Global Teacher Prize,  Sh100 million award presented annually to an exceptional teacher who has made an outstanding contribution to the profession.

“You have to do more, talk less and understand students better and let them have a friend in you,” Mr Mokaya says.

Varkey Foundation, an organisation working across the globe to improve the standards of education and raise the status and capacity of the teachers announced the top ten finalists on March, with Mr Mokaya being the only one from Africa to make it to the top 10 finalists.

“It is an honour; I almost could not belief it, even in my wildest dreams that I could one day be recognised for my efforts in impacting positively to the students through my projects. I have always dedicated my efforts towards improving education in remote schools and making them develop a liking for Sciences,” Mr Mokaya says.

JourneyAt the seven-year-old school, the struggle is notable, but the script is fast changing. Two students are preparing to participate and represent the country in the Intel International Science Contest to be held in Arizona, United States.

The teacher behind the success, too is Mr Mokaya. Last year, his two students also qualified to participate in the prestigious contest that only selects 1800 best students across 75 Countries from the pool of over 100,000 students.

“It has been a journey, first, the school lack some facilities and key equipment but we have managed to pull through by using the little resources which we currently have,” he says. Previously, Mr Tabichi taught in a private school-fully equipped with state-of the art laboratories, library and even a computer room until he decided to join the neighbouring public school.

“I grew up admiring to be a teacher; my father was one, my uncles and cousins too. I admired the impact they had in the society, and wanted to better their script. I then joined Keriko day school, a new school with loads of challenges, the classes were, and still are barely enough, no library, a single laboratory for all sciences and for all classes, no administration block and one computer to its name,” Mr Mokaya said.

As a Franciscan Brother, he said he dedicated 80 percent of his salary towards helping the society. He also initiated science clubs, which saw students enrolling for sciences.

“Our laboratory does not have everything but I challenge them to think wider and use local resources in coming up with something that will have an impact. In 2017, our students made qualified for the Intel ISEF competition with their project of producing electricity using euphobia sap and lemon juice, things that are easily available,” he says.

In 2018, two other students also made it for the global prestigious competition slated for May this year after their Mathematics project topped during the National Engineering and Science fair.

“The growth has been tremendous. Mr Mokaya is that go-to teacher who is selfless and dedicates almost everything for a change, a change we are already feeling as a school and as a Country. Being the only one that has made this far in Africa is a story worth defining destiny of hardwork and dedication,” Mr Daniel Mwariri, the school head teacher says.

He says the school has managed to beat all odds, and emerging among the giants in the region.

“It is true that hard work really pays, enrolment has drastically improved from only 200 students two years ago to almost 500 currently even despite the few facilities,” Mr Mwariri said.

According to Varkey Foundation, Global Teacher Prize awards ‘real superheroes’ who are real champions for change, inspiring millions of learners across the globe.

The low status of teachers around the world coupled up with challenging teaching environment in most countries birthed the Global Teacher Prize in 2013 by Varkey Foundation.

The 2013 Global Teacher Status Index, the foundation noted, revealed the dwindling elevated status of teachers across the world.

The statistics revealed that the dwindling status of teachers was slowly impacting on chances of younger generations to becoming teachers. The research revealed that the declining respect for teachers will weaken teaching, as well as impacting on learning.”When we conducted the Global Teacher Status Index five years ago we were alarmed by the weight of evidence pointing to the low status of teachers around the world. It was this that inspired us to create the Global Teacher Prize, which shines a light on the extraordinary work that teachers do around the world,” Sunney Varkey, the founder of the organisation noted.

Varkey said it was ‘heartening’ that since the first Global Teacher Status Index there has been a modest rise in the status of teachers globally.

“But there is still a mountain to climb before teachers everywhere are given the respect they deserve. After all, they’re responsible for shaping the future,” he noted.

In the 2018 Index which was conducted five years after its first, the research still reveals that of the 21 countries surveyed, only in China did people see teachers as having equal status with doctors.

While announcing the awards, renowned actor Hugh Jackman said the Global Teacher Prize has inspired millions of teachers across the world, recognising teachers’ commitment to education.

“Since the launch of Global Teacher Award Prize 5 years ago, it has inspired over 30 National Teacher prizes across the world, bringing out thousands of stories of heroes that transform young people’s lives. These are the people who allow us to grow in to our dreams,” Mr Jackman said.


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