A Hero’s Welcome

Over 20,000 people welcomed Peter Tabichi home after winning the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019.

It was a homecoming to remember for Peter Tabichi as his plane touched down in Nairobi, Kenya just days after being announced the winner of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019. Over 20,000 people lined the streets of Nakuru County to give him a hero’s welcome.

Holding his trophy aloft and posing for pictures, he was first received at State House Nairobi by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, who called him an inspiration to society.

Speaking at the various high-level events in the nation’s capital, addressing, teachers, unions and businesses, Peter said: “Every day in Africa we turn a new page and start a new chapter. Today is another day. Winning the Global Teacher Prize does not recognise me but recognises 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.”

He added that, as a maths and science teacher, he believes science and technology can play a leading role in unlocking Africa’s potential. Scientific discovery and innovation fuel progress, facilitate development and can tackle issues such as food insecurity, water shortage and climate change.

“Africa is a continent bursting with the promise that I see every day in my classroom. From my students, I see raw talent and great creativity. I also see hard work, a determination to defy the odds and be the best they can be. It’s not just my students who are at the beginning of life’s journey. You can taste it in the air across Africa — from the remotest village to the largest megacity. You cannot stop the change. For we finally have the chance to make all the hopes for Africa- so often crushed in the past — a reality,” said Peter.

As he entered Nakuru County on the homeward stretch of his long journey, he was greeted with roadside billboards congratulating him on his victory. When he was finally reunited with his students and staff at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, well-wishers lifted him on top their shoulders. Sunny Varkey, Founder of the Varkey Foundation and Chairman and Founder of GEMS Education, said: “I hope Peter’s story will encourage others to enter the teaching profession and shine a spotlight on the truly inspiring work teachers do to make tomorrow brighter than today.”

Winning the Global Teacher Prize does not recognise me but recognises this great continent’s young people. I am only here because of what my students have achieved.

Peter has been appointed as the first Champion for Children in Conflicts and Crisis for Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in crisis. This is Peter’s first big role in the wake of winning the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019 winner in March.

He will champion the cause of Education Cannot Wait and 75 million children whose education is disrupted by conflicts and natural disasters. This ambassadorial role, combined with his Global Teacher Prize duties, will see him travel to the world’s most crisis-affected children, along with planned engagements at the 2019 United Nations General Assembly and other highlevel events.

Education Cannot Wait said his inspiring story and powerful voice will help raise the urgency on the world stage of investing in the future of girls and boys left behind in crisis. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education and Chair of Education Cannot Wait’s High-Level Steering Group, praised Peter, saying: “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. 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.”

Uhuru Kenyatta and Peter Tibichi