A Kenyan Franciscan brother from a remote village who gave away most of his earnings as a teacher to the poor won a $1 million prize on Sunday for his work teaching in a government-run school that has just one computer and shoddy Internet access.
The annual Global Teacher Prize was awarded to Franciscan Brother Peter Tabichi in the opulent Atlantis Hotel in Dubai in a ceremony hosted by actor Hugh Jackman.
Tabichi said the farthest he’d traveled before this was to Uganda. Coming to Dubai marked his first time on an airplane.
“I feel great. I can’t believe it. I feel so happy to be among the best teachers in the world, being the best in the world,” he told The Associated Press after his win.
Tabichi teaches science to high schoolers in the semi-arid village of Pwani where almost a third of children are orphans or have only one parent. Drought and famine are common.
He said the school has no library and no laboratory. He plans to use the million dollars from his win to improve the school and feed the poor.
Despite the obstacles Tabichi’s students face, he’s credited with helping many stay in school, qualify for international competitions in science and engineering and go on to college.
“At times, whenever I reflect on the challenges they face, I shed tears,” he said of his students, adding that his win will help give them confidence.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a statement that Tabichi’s story “is the story of Africa” and of hope for future generations.
As a member of the Franciscan order, Tabichi wore a plain floor-length brown robe to receive the award presented by Dubai’s Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
Read more at Crux.