From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Owners and operators of private schools in Abuja recently put a lie to the age-long notion that teachers’ reward was in heaven.
The group, in recognition of the amazing contributions of their teachers, honoured 51 of them.
The event came on the heels of the National Teachers’ Award, which held in Abuja last October. Clement Okodo, a teacher from Central School, Abagana, Njikoka Local Government Area of Anambra State, emerged the best teacher in Nigeria at the event. The feat earned him a new Nissan Almera and other gifts, while other awardees were also honoured.
Weeks after the national event, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) chapter of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), followed up with its own awards event. NAPPS is the umbrella body of private school proprietors in Nigeria. It celebrated its National Teachers’ Day with an award to 51 teachers who were adjudged to have performed creditably well in their various jobs.
Daily Sun was informed that the awardees were also subjected to rigorous academic and professional screening, with emphasis on diligence, commitment, discipline, interest in the wellbeing of pupils and students, inter-personal relationship skills, effective communication ability, knowledge of subject matter, delivery style, honesty, trust, ICT literacy and other related technological resources, which were helpful in transferring knowledge.
Chairperson, NAPPS, FCT, Mrs. Peace Iheama, in her address, said that the award was meant to celebrate the teachers and also motivate others who were yet to attain the laudable height of “star teachers.” She wanted them to be aware that the society was watching and would reward them some day.
Iheama described teaching as a noble profession, hence the need for periodic review of teaching and learning methods. She said it was important for the society to appreciate teachers who had put in their best for the betterment of future generations, in spite of the harsh environment.
Iheama regretted that the poor remuneration of teachers, in both the public and private schools, had weakened the morale of the few committed ones to do their jobs in line with global best practices.
Registrar, Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria (TRCN), Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, in his keynote address, expressed sadness that private school operators had continued to harbour unqualified teachers in the profession.
He noted that available statistics indicated that private school operators were the highest employers of unregistered and unqualified teachers, contrary to federal government directive that only teachers who were identified with TRCN be engaged to teach in schools.
“It is heart-breaking because of its devastating short and long-term effects on our education system. Undoubtedly, quality education remains the bedrock of our individual and collective development, and should not be toyed with,” he said.
Ajiboye, who spoke through the deputy director, private schools, Olabode Olaniran, admitted that the recent invasion of the profession by “unqualified” people significantly diluted the ethics of the teaching profession.
He, therefore, challenged teachers and school proprietors to fight collectively for the soul of the profession, regretting that it had been hijacked by quacks.
He also challenged the school operators to engage in periodic training and retraining of their teachers so that they could be abreast with current developments and techniques in teaching and learning.
One of the awardees, Nkeiruka Ejimofor, from Desire of Nations Redeemers’ School, Jabi, Abuja, said that the award came to her as a surprise.
“I never knew I could be a teacher in my life. But I began to develop interest in the teaching profession during my National Youth Service Corps days, when I was posted to teach in a secondary school. While I was there, I discovered that there were lots of gaps between the teachers and students. I knew deep inside me that I had the solution.
“After the NYSC programme, I enrolled for a postgraduate diploma in education and now, the rest is history,” she said.
She thanked the organisers and school proprietors for the remarkable recognition.
Another awardee, Taofiki Atoliba, a teacher at Nurul-Bayan International Academy, Wuse Zone 5, Abuja, noted that he had never received such honour in his more than 20-year teaching career.
He also regretted that quacks had infiltrated the profession and thanked the organisers for the recognition.
Other speakers suggested drastic changes in government policies on education.
“A situation where the highest scorers in the Unified Tertiary Matriculation Examination, conducted by the Joint Admissions and Matriculation Board are given admission in universities while the lowest scorers are pushed to colleges of education is discouraging and unacceptable,” one of the speakers said.