Peter Tabichi, a Kenyan science teacher and winner of the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019, will be making his first ever visits to Washington, Silicon Valley, and New York from September 16, where he will meet with the world’s largest and most innovative tech companies to ask them to support science learning among young people in Africa.
In his new Science Challenge, Peter Tabichi will urge these giants and unicorns to help Africa’s youth solve the vast, urgent problems on their own doorstep; from climate change and drought to food insecurity and disease prevention.
Peter will highlight that it is not only a moral duty but also in the America’s self-interest to help Africa develop their science and technology base.
Peter Tabichi said:
“The fates of America and Kenya are linked. 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.
It is not enough for Western companies and governments to provide aid to alleviate the hardships faced in the Global South.
They must also help Africa produce homegrown scientific talent who will come up with fresh solutions from fresh perspectives that can only be cultivated at the coalface.”
Tabichi leads by example by giving away 80% of his salary to the poor in his community and he was this year appointed the first Champion for Children in Conflicts and Crisis for Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in crisis. He is championing the cause of the 75 million children whose education is disrupted by conflicts and natural disasters and will be attending the 2019 United Nations General Assembly while in New York.
Tabichi will ask US tech giants to contribute where they can, from funding training for STEM teachers in Africa as well as scholarships for African students to study sciences at top global universities to launching programmes to encourage more African girls to take up STEM subjects and opening internships for African students in their own companies.
Vikas Pota, Chairman of the Varkey Foundation, said:
“Teachers hold the future of our world in their hands through the young minds they nurture. That’s why we strive every day to shine a spotlight on teachers and empower them to make real change.
“Peter Tabichi’s call could not be more timely nor more vital as climate change and conflict force people from their homes and drought and food insecurity threaten lives and livelihoods. If young Africans are to tackle the urgent and existential challenges they will inherit, they will need the best education they can get.
“I urge companies in the US to answer Peter’s call and do everything they can to help teachers across Africa equip the next generation to change the world we’re leaving them for the better.”
BIO- Peter Tabichi
Peter Tabichi won the Varkey Foundation Global Teacher Prize 2019 at a ceremony in March hosted by actor, singer, and producer Hugh Jackman.
Peter teaches at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School in Pwani Village, situated in a remote, semi-arid part of Kenya’s Rift Valley. Here, students from a host of diverse cultures and religions learn in poorly equipped classrooms.
Their lives can be tough in a region where drought and famine are frequent. Ninety-five percent of pupils hail 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.
Turning lives around in a school with a student-teacher ratio of 58:1, is no easy task, not least when to reach the school, students must walk 7km along roads that become impassable in the rainy season.
Undeterred, Peter started a talent nurturing club and expanded the school’s Science Club, helping pupils design research projects of such quality that 60% now qualify for national competitions.
Peter mentored his pupils through the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair 2018 – where students showcased a device they had invented to allow blind and deaf people to measure objects.
His students, who had never stepped on a plane before, went on to win the UN Sustainable Development Goal Award at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) in Phoenix, Arizona this year.
Despite teaching in a school with only one desktop computer with an intermittent internet connection, Peter uses ICT in 80% of his lessons to engage students, visiting internet cafes and caching online content to be used offline in class.
MORE 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. https://www.varkeyfoundation.org
BIO – VIKAS POTA – CHAIRMAN OF GLOBAL EDUCATION CHARITY, THE VARKEY FOUNDATION
Vikas Pota is Chairman of global education charity the Varkey Foundation and Group Chief Executive of Tmrw Digital, which invests in education technology businesses and has established the Tmrw Institute to advance understanding of the education technology sector in key areas.
At a time when we face a global education crisis – with the urgent need to recruit 69 million teachers to meet the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal of universal quality education – Vikas responded by getting presidents, prime ministers and even the Pope around the table by convening the annual Global Education & Skills Forum – widely known as the ‘Davos of education’ – to discuss how to meet this challenge.
Vikas established the $1 million Global Teacher Prize, which has brought together world leaders and stars such as Lewis Hamilton, Matthew McConaughey, Princes William and Harry, Bill Gates, Hugh Jackman and the late Stephen Hawking in celebration of the work teachers do.
The prize – known as the ‘Nobel of teaching’ – has unearthed the stories of thousands of inspirational teachers to shine a spotlight on the profession. The story of this year’s winner, Kenyan teacher Peter Tabichi, has been covered the world over from the BBC to CNN, Globo and the New York Times.
Vikas identified that by raising teacher respect in this way, we could help encourage the best and brightest to go into and stay in the teaching profession to solve the recruitment and retention crisis.
Vikas has won numerous awards and honours for his work including being named by the Evening Standard as one of London’s Top 1000 most influential people, being appointed a visiting practitioner by Harvard University, and being selected to join the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders programme by HRH Queen Rania of Jordan, an honour shared by the Founders of Google, Facebook, and Yahoo, and Heads of Government such as the former President of Mexico, the Prime Minister of the UK, and President of France.
Vikas’ journey to becoming a leading light in the charity sector was a long and painful one.
During the British Raj, Vikas’ grandparents emigrated to East Africa from India to help build the railways where they settled and raised their children.
Vikas’ parents were introduced by way of a photo of his mother sent from India to his father in Kenya.
They were married the next day. Vikas was born in 1974 in Kenya, when Idi Amin in neighbouring Uganda was launching his brutal campaign against Asians.
Political uncertainty followed in Kenya and a coup d’etat was attempted in the early 80s.
With soldiers barricading their road and gunfire at the end of the street, his father sent his wife and two young children to his brother’s home in London. Vikas was nine years old.
His father had planned to join them, but as he was preparing to do so he was killed in a motor accident, leaving his young family facing poverty in London.
Despite not speaking any English, Vikas’ mother worked every hour she could to feed her family, first in an Indian confectioner’s shop making samosas, then in a factory making sandwiches for Marks & Spencer’s and lastly in an elderly home.
The only advice his mother offered him during his education was to do everything to ensure he gained admission to a university course because in her observation, all those who she could see prospering had a degree qualification.
With that in mind, Vikas graduated from Aston University and then entered the world of work where he strived to pay off his mother’s debts.
Initially, he worked for a big bank, but he knew this was not his calling.
Instead, he threw himself into charity work, founding Sewa Day, which has motivated over 50,000 people in 20 countries to provide their time to either help relieve hardship and poverty, protect the environment, or to bring a little joy to those who have little.
He also relished the opportunity to work in international relations as the Director of an India focused Parliamentary Group in Westminster during the Blair government, taking British MPs to India and fostering improved foreign relations.
It was his skill as a bringer together of people, as well as his passion for helping some of the most disadvantaged people on the planet through the transformative power of education, that ultimately led him to establish the Varkey Foundation with Sunny Varkey.