Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 19 October 2019

Global Teacher Prize winner meets US President Donald Trump

Peter Tabichi, who received the prestigious honour in Dubai earlier this year, is aiming to win hearts and minds during a tour of America

Global Teacher Prize recipient Peter Tabichi, with US President Donald Trump and Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation. Courtesy Varkey Foundation
Global Teacher Prize recipient Peter Tabichi, with US President Donald Trump and Sunny Varkey, founder of the Varkey Foundation. Courtesy Varkey Foundation

A Franciscan monk who saw off competition from 10,000 teachers across the globe to win a prestigious education accolade in Dubai met United States President Donald Trump this week.

Peter Tabichi, from Kenya, secured the $1 million (Dh3.67m) Global Teacher Prize in March at a ceremony attended by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Hollywood actor Hugh Jackman.

The science teacher was honoured at an event held at Atlantis, The Palm, for his dedication to the teaching profession, including selflessly donating 80 per cent of his salary to support impoverished pupils at the Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, Nakuru, to help cover the cost of their uniforms and books.

Almost all of the pupils at the school are from disadvantaged backgrounds, and many have lost a parent or are orphaned.

They are taught in groups of 70 or 80 and many walk more than six kilometres to reach the school.

Mr Tabichi, 36, swapped the classrooms for the White House for an audience with Mr Trump as part of a whirlwind US tour.

On Tuesday, he will be given the opportunity to open the US Congress with a prayer, before later addressing the United Nations in New York to urge decision makers to encourage the teaching of science in Africa.

"The fates of America and Africa are entwined," said Mr Tabichi.

"The same global forces that have seen wildfires and extreme weather events ravage the US have brought droughts and crop failure to my own community, forcing my students to come to school hungry.

"Today’s African refugees from climate change, war and hardship will be tomorrow’s migrants on America’s doorstep. It is Africa that supplies the cobalt, mined at high human cost, that powers the smartphones that underpin US corporate connectivity."

During his visit, Mr Tabichi will call on political and business leaders and philanthropists alike to pledge their support to help Africa tackle a variety of challenges, from mounting concerns over climate change and drought to disease prevention, while encouraging the growth of science and technology across the vast continent.

The Global Teacher Prize was first awarded in 2015 and this year attracted 10,000 nominations from 179 countries.

It was set up by the Varkey Foundation, a global charitable organisation, under the patronage of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

Sunny Varkey, who founded the Varkey Foundation, said teachers played a crucial role in the development of young people.

“Teachers hold the future of our world in their hands through the young minds they nurture," Mr Varkey said. "That’s why, through the Global Teacher Prize, we strive every day to shine a spotlight on teachers and their enormous power to transform lives.”

Updated: September 17, 2019 04:25 PM

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