From Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The saying that the reward of teachers is in heaven appears no longer to be true as some of them have been rewarded here on earth.
If not, what can one say of the construction of a twin three-bedroom apartment for the teachers at Federal Government Girls’ College (FGGC) Onitsha, Anambra State by the Nigerian Breweries Plc.
The apartment was in honour of Mrs Rose Nkem Obi, winner of the Maltina Teacher of the Year 2015 award.
She had emerged the overall winner of the competition organized under NB-Felix Ohiwerei Education Trust Fund.
Mrs Obi, a Chemistry teacher at the FGGC Onitsha had received several gift items for winning the median award, including N1 million annual prize for five years at a stretch when she beat other contestants in the competition last year in Lagos.
The Minister of State for Education, Prof Anthony Anwuka, commissioning the staff residence at FGGC Onitsha in honour of Mrs Obi commended the Nigerian Breweries for being in the forefront of supporting the development of education in the country.
He disclosed that the Federal Government has a strategic plan to improve the quality of teachers, revamping the learning environment, creating and supporting partnership for sustainable and improved funding.
The minister said that education occupies a strategic place in the change mantra of the Muhammadu Buhari administration to bring about a positive turn of events for the country, especially at this time the country was in the desperate need for a turn-around of its fortune.
According to him, “Nigerian Breweries Plc has been at the forefront of supporting the development of education in Nigeria. By continually investing in educational infrastructure, encouraging teachers and students, NB has demonstrated an unshakable resolve to ensure our national development”.
He said that the company contributes one per cent of its turnover to the government’s education fund as stipulated by law, adding that the NB also supported the building and renovation of education infrastructure and awards scholarships running into several millions of naira on an annual basis through its NB-Felix Ohiwerei Education Trust Fund.
“I must congratulate the government and people of Anambra State, a state that has continuously churned out leading intellectuals that have gone ahead to do our great country proud in different fields of human endeavor. And just as Anambra State has been a conducive bed that has nurtured great minds, I trust this staff residence will be used to provide the comfort, relaxation and inspiration for teachers in this great school to be their best in impacting the generation of young people that our country needs to hold its own in the comity of nations,” Prof Anwuka said.
The governor of Anambra State, Chief Willie Obiano who was represented by the Commissioner for Education, Prof Kate Emenugha, said that Mrs Obi brought fame to the state after winning the 2015 Maltina Teachers Award that attracted the building of the apartment for the school.
She disclosed that the state also won awards in senior, junior secondary schools and primary school categories in debates in the country.
Prof Emenugha also frowned at the pushing of those who scored below the cut-off marks in JAMB over to the education faculty in the universities, advising that the best brains should instead be admitted into education departments to produce best graduates in the country.
Also the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr Nicolaas Vervelde who was represented by the Corporate Affairs Adviser of the company, Mr Kufre Ekanem, said that the two-apartment structure was attracted to the school by the success of Mrs Obi when she became the winner of the maiden edition of Maltina Teacher of the Year initiative in 2015.
He said that the Maltina Teacher Award was designed to recognize, celebrate and motivate teachers in Nigeria as part of its company’s continuous commitment to the development of education in the country.
Vervelde also stated that the idea of a school-based project was to ensure that when a teacher won, community where she teaches also won too, saying that the Maltina teacher award was to inspire and accord the teachers their deserved credit and bring back respect to the teaching profession in Nigeria.
He noted that the trust fund was established in 1994 with a take-off fund of N100 million and has impacted over 20,000 students across the country, adding that the programme has built over 250 classrooms and 22 libraries in both primary and secondary schools across 44 communities in the country.
The MD also stated that the trust fund had renovated and donated equipment to tertiary institutions, including the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Pan-Atlantic University, Lagos, saying that currently they are equipping the clinical skills laboratory at University College, Ibandan.
The Principal of FGGC, Onitsha, Mrs Margaret Enonuya, commended the minister and NB Plc for honouring the school with the teacher’s award and building a residence for teachers in the school.
According to her, “rarely indeed has any secondary school in Nigeria been so honoured as today to be awarded the gift of a twin three-bedroom bungalow for producing a national icon, the Maltina Teacher of the year 2015. Rarely has a principal been invested by her staff to receive such great honour as the Maltina Yeacher of the year”.
She said that the school would not let the government and the company down, pledging that they would continue to excel in any competition, as well as continue to produce the best students.
The winner of Maltina Teacher of the year 2015, Mrs Obi in her remarks thanked Nigeria Breweries for the building of a staff quarter for the teachers in her honour, saying that the life of a teacher is the life sacrifice.
She recalled that she has spent 10 years in the college as PTA teacher before she was converted in 2013, saying that her husband motivated her to enroll in the competition and thanked the school for the opportunity to represent it.
She, however, called for the upgrade of teachers’ salary in order to encourage them to put more efforts in teaching the students, saying that the building would help the teachers to be closer to the students and to monitor their activities.