Education Cannot Wait Appoints Varkey Foundation 2019 Global Teacher Prize Winner as ‘champion for Children in Conflicts and Crises’

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Peter Tabichi donates 80 per cent of his income to the poor. Photo originally published on the Varkay Foundation website.

It gives me great pleasure to work together with like-minded people such as Peter Tabichi to ensure that nobody is left behind in achieving our goal of universal and equitable education.’ – Gordon Brown

New York

Peter Tabichi, a science teacher in Kenya whose outstanding dedication to his students earned him the prestigious 2019 Global Teacher Prize is appointed as the first “Champion for Children in Conflicts and Crisis” for Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in crisis.

Tabichi will champion the cause of Education Cannot Wait and 75 million children whose education is disrupted by conflicts and natural disasters. With travels to the world’s most crisis-affected children and planned engagements at the 2019 United Nations General Assembly and other high-level events, Tabichi’s inspiring story and powerful voice will help raise the urgency on the world stage to invest in the future of girls and boys left behind in crisis.

Tabichi was awarded the US$1 million Varkey Foundation’s Global Teacher Prize last month in Dubai, with actor Hugh Jackman and Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum joining him on stage to celebrate the teacher’s tireless efforts to bring quality education to poor children in Kenya’s Rift Valley.

“The award is a testament to Mr. Tabichi’s dedication to the education of the children of Pwani and inspiration to all involved in teaching and in learning,” said Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of Education Cannot Wait’s High-Level Steering Group. “It gives me great pleasure to work together with like-minded people such as Mr. Tabichi to ensure that nobody is left behind in achieving our goal of universal and equitable education.”

Tabichi’s school in Kenya has just one computer and a student-teacher ratio of 58 to 1. In all 95 per cent of Tabichi’s students come from poor families, almost a third are orphans or have only one parent, and many go without food at home. Drug abuse, teenage pregnancies, dropping out early from school, young marriages and suicide are common.

Nurturing the talents of these students, Tabichi expanded the school’s Science Club, mentoring his students to win first prize in the national science fair for an invention they built to allow blind and deaf people to measure objects. The students have also been honored by the Royal Society of Chemistry for an experiment that harnessed local plant life to generate energy.

Enrollment has doubled in the past three years at Tabichi’s school, and in 2018, 26 graduates went on to studies at the University.

“The students I teach see true hardships every day, from poverty to drought and hunger. But I also see in them raw talent and great creativity, hard work, a determination to defy the odds, and be the best they can be. Every child, everywhere in the world deserves the chance to fulfil their full potential,” said Tabichi. “It is heart-breaking to know that 75 million children around the world see their educational chances disrupted by conflict and natural disasters. Education Cannot Wait is doing vital work to make sure these children are not left behind. It will be my great honour to help them ensure children whose lives have been blighted by war and catastrophe are given their birth right: a decent education.”

Teachers in crisis settings are today’s world unsung heroes. Day after day, they strive to preserve a sense of normalcy and hope for the millions of children and youth whose future is at stake. Some are killed or injured in performing their duties. Some go without a salary for months or years. The majority face extremely challenging working conditions: insecurity, widespread violence and psychological trauma, overcrowded classes, lack of the most basic infrastructure and teaching materials, epidemics and gender-based violence. What’s more, many are volunteers who sometimes have never been trained to perform their function but who are committed and choose to devote their life to making a difference for children.

“Every day a child is out of education is not just a tragedy for the child, it is a tragedy for the world they will inherit. To tackle the education crisis, most severe in those places plagued by conflict and natural disaster, it is vital that we learn from teachers like Peter Tabichi, who are working on the front line to give young people born into the most challenging circumstances the skills they need to face the future with confidence,” said Vikas Pota, Chairman of the Varkey Foundation.

Through its investments, Education Cannot Wait relieves the hardship of teachers in crisis settings by providing them with the support they require to fulfil their role as a fundamental cornerstone of quality learning outcomes for children and youth. This entails providing training opportunities for teachers – with a special attention to ensuring females are equally represented in the teaching force – teaching materials, monetary incentives, school infrastructure upgrades, safe teaching and learning environments, and psychosocial services for children.

“We are honored to have Peter Tabichi as our Champion for Children in Conflicts and Crises. He is a profound visionary and a scholar, and he embodies the values of Education Cannot Wait. We feel privileged to partner with Mr. Tabichi because he represents the essence of education and its transformative power. His sense of service is inspiring and his pioneering achievements are a beacon of hope for the young generation of children, their teachers and, indeed, all of us,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.


About the Varkey Foundation

The Varkey Foundation believes every child deserves a vibrant, stimulating learning environment that awakens and supports their full potential. We believe nothing is more important to achieving this than the passion and quality of teachers. We founded the Global Teacher Prize to shine a spotlight on the incredible work teachers do all over the world and we continue to play a leading role in influencing education debates on the status of teachers around the world.

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