Teacher award credits unsung heroes in education

The dedication and selflessness of educators such as Peter Tabichi is inspiring

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - Winner of the Global Teacher Prize 2019 Peter Tabichi from Kenya with actor Hugh Jackman and the teacher finalist at the Global Education and Skills Forum 2019 at Atlantis, The Palm.  Leslie Pableo for The National for Anam Rizvi's shorty
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Every day, across the world, millions of teachers exhibit the kind of selflessness and dedication few among us would be able to muster. They are the often unsung heroes we entrust not just with the safety of our young but also with the belief they can nurture their budding talent and help them fulfil their promise. Still, there are few teachers as unwavering in their duties as Peter Tabichi. The Kenyan teacher and Fransciscan monk won this year’s Global Teacher Prize for his unflinching commitment to educate children in his village of Pwani, going so far as to donate 80 per cent of his salary to the cause. For his efforts, he was awarded the top prize of $1 million at a ceremony in Dubai in the competition staged by the Varkey Foundation. With 10,000 nominations from about 170 countries, the prize has raised awareness about the hard work carried out by teachers around the globe since 2015. Mr Tabichi’s triumph proves that for committed educators, no obstacle is too big.

In a congratulatory video message, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta called Mr Tabichi “a shining example of what the human spirit can achieve”. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the Crown Prince of Dubai, presented Mr Tabichi with his trophy. These accolades are well-deserved. Mr Tabichi pays for uniforms and books for pupils who cannot afford them and convinces parents of the value of education, visiting the families of children at risk of dropping out. Under his stewardship, many are now going to university. Typically, he has already promised to spend the winnings on updating facilities for his students.

But he is not alone in his largesse. Among the 10 finalists were a British teacher improving inclusivity in a multi-ethnic school and a teacher in India using drama to help prevent child labour and underage marriage. The message this coveted prize sends out is as important as the recognition it conveys. It will encourage others driven to give something back to society to join the profession and it honours those who quietly go about improving the lives of those in their care, with little reward but unswerving dedication.