Peter is a member of the Franciscan Brotherhood – an international religious organisation of the Catholic Church that aims to empower the rural poor through education, sustainable agriculture and peace-building. But he is also a teacher who has made a huge difference to the lives and prospects of his pupils.
Coming from a family of teachers – including three uncles and four cousins – teaching has always been close to Peter’s heart. Growing up he saw first-hand the dedication that teachers bring to the community, and he has come to view the teacher’s role as enlightening others on how to tackle the challenges of life. Peter joined the religious life because he wanted to be able to dedicate himself wholeheartedly to helping others: to this end, he gives 80% of his income earned through teaching to the Franciscan Brothers for the assistance of the needy.
Peter teaches in the Keriko Mixed Day Secondary School situated in Pwani Village, Nakuru County – a semi-arid area in the Rift Valley region of Kenya. The school is dominated by students from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds, 95% of which are very poor – and food insecurity is a big challenge for most households. 30% of the students are either orphans or brought up by single parents. The school has only one desktop computer – shared between the secretary, bursar and teaching staff.
Peter’s effect on the school has been twofold. First, since the school has students who come from a number of different religions, Peter had to find a way of uniting them in order to overcome their religious differences. So he designed a common programme for conducting prayers and worship during assembly days, with students from different religious groups having equal time to run the programme. Second, Peter introduced a Talent Nurturing Club and expanded the existing school Science Club. 60% of the students’ projects subsequently qualified for the Kenya Science and Engineering Fair (KSEF) 2018 – where the school emerged the best in the public schools category – and the Mathematical Science team has qualified to participate at the INTEL International Science and Engineering Fair 2019 in Arizona. Peter has also pioneered ways to increase the availability of teaching, such as recording videos of lessons for digital reproduction.
If awarded the Global Teacher Prize, Peter would use the money to promote and expand the Talent Nurturing Club, the Science Club and Inter-School Science Project Competitions. He would also invest in a school computer lab with better Internet connectivity. In the community, he plans to start an agricultural project that focuses on promotion of kitchen gardens and production of drought tolerant crops; he will also identify a few bright and needy students within the community to ensure that they get the support they need to pursue quality further education.