Nakuru, Kenya – It has been days since Peter Tabichi was awarded the prestigious Global Teacher Prize by Varkey Foundation. As soon as the mathematics and physics teacher was crowned the winner on March 24, in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), he became the man of the moment attracting tributes and acclamation from across the world.
The climax of celebrating his victory was on Saturday when he returned to the school that is the anchor of his win: Keriko Mixed High School located in Nakuru County, about 180km northwest of the Kenyan capital Nairobi.
The welcome for the Franciscan faithful was heroic. He was escorted from Nakuru town, in an entourage including Amina Mohamed, cabinet secretary for sports and heritage, Nakuru county leaders as well as representatives of ministry of education, teachers union and the Varkey Foundation.
Also in the procession were his fellow teachers and students who through songs praised him for his humility and selflessness. At the school, he was cheered through songs and dances by relatives, local community and students.
The celebration mood may be over now but much is expected to be achieved through him or in his name all translating to transforming his school and community.
John Wangai, the school’s deputy principal foresees an increased enrolment of high performing students. "We believe the attitude of the community has now changed and we will from now henceforth be receiving students who have scored more than 300 marks. The students we have were admitted with average marks of 240. But now, the parents and students will know they are coming to a good school," said Wangai.
The school in the middle of a dry region within Lari ward in Nakuru County is 10 years old with a student population of 475 and 18 teachers, seven of whom are on government payroll.
The deputy principal hopes that with Tabichi’s win, the Teachers Service Commission (TSC) would consider deploying more teachers to the school. "We would like to have another well-equipped lab as currently we only have one where practicals for all the three science subjects (biology, chemistry and physics) are done," said Wangai.
He also hoped for book donations to establish a complete and fully stocked library, a development the deputy principal said would bolster the school’s mean score.
Wangai said his school would be introducing computer learning to enable the students to acquire skills and expand their opportunities in career development.
But Tabichi has recognised that it is not only Keriko school that has a shortfall of necessary infrastructure. Establishing a facility that would enable other students in neighbouring schools to undertake their practicals, hold a symposium or inter-school science competitions falls in his 100 million shillings (1 million US dollar) prize money expenditure plans.
He said his intention lies in investing in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and would engage other partners locally and internationally to achieve his mission.
"I also intend to come up with exchange programs on STEM with local and global institutions," said Tabichi. "I would work towards developing ICT infrastructure in my school since that’s where my passion is," he added.
The now famous teacher said he would be using more than 80 percent of his prize money in educating the needy bright students and empowering the local community to become resilient to effects of drought.
"My focus is not going to be just the children but help the community adapt to climate change. I will be helping them adopt a model of growing drought-tolerant crops in kitchen gardens," said Tabichi.