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World's best teacher Tabichi opens US Congress with prayer

Wednesday September 18 2019

HILARY KIMUYU
By HILARY KIMUYU
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The world’s best teacher, Peter Tabichi, who on Monday swapped classrooms for the White House and met US President Donald Trump, has become the first Kenyan to recite the Franciscan prayer for peace at the Capitol, Washington DC.

Brother Tabichi teaches science at Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School at Pwani village in Njoro, Nakuru County.

In March, he won the 2019 Global Teacher Prize that came with a Sh100 million ($1 million) reward.

THE PRAYER

An elated Tabichi shared his joy after he was welcomed to the Congress to say the prayer, dressed in a dark-brown kean khanoon robe.

“It was a great privilege and honour to open the US Congress with the Franciscan prayer for peace at the Capitol. What a great day! God bless us all,” he tweeted.

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The Peace Prayer of Saint Francis asks God to make the people instruments of peace.

“Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is discord, union; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy,” reads part of the of St Francis of Assisi prayer.

COMMITMENT

The staunch Catholic and member of the Franciscan Friars, a religious order founded by St Francis of Assisi in the 13th century, amazed the world with his commitment to nurturing the academic abilities of his students, majority of whom come from poor backgrounds.

The 36-year-old Egerton University graduate has been a teacher for 12 years. He gives 80 per cent of his salary to the poor.

Following his win, Mr Tabichi has travelled the world inspiring many, and was recently appointed as the champion for children in conflicts and crisis by Varky Foundation, a London-based global charitable organisation focused on improving the standards of education for underprivileged children.

PRAISE

For the White House visit, Mr Tabichi was accompanied by Varkey Foundation Chairman Vikas Pota and billionaire Founder of Varkey Foundation, Sunny Varkey.

So far during his tour, the decorated teacher has visited the World Bank, Google offices, Unicef’s Education Cannot Wait Programme (ECW) and UN General Assembly.

Describing the Kenyan teacher as an inspiration to Americans for his hard work and commitment to his students, White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham tweeted images of his meeting with Mr Trump but did not give details of what was discussed.

“His dedication, hard work and belief in his students’ talent has led his poorly-resourced school in Kenya to emerge victorious after taking on the country’s best schools in national science competitions,” Ms Grisham posted on Twitter.

In May, two of Mr Tabichi's students, Esther Amimo Anyanzwa and Salome Njeri, bagged the UN Sustainable Development Goal Award at the International Science and Engineering Fair (Isef), winning the grand prize of Sh200,000.

They created a device that helps visually impaired and deaf learners do mathematics.

UN ADDRESS

Mr Tabichi will this week address the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly 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.

He said 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 running 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,” he added.