From Fred Ezeh, Abuja
Federal Government, last Tuesday, splashed awards on teachers whose outstanding performance made significant impact for students, communities and society at large.
The award of excellence evidently nullified the age-long notion that a teacher’s reward was in heaven. The teachers expressed happiness that their excellent service and contributions to human development have begun to attract recognition and rewards on earth.
The rewards came to a few deserving ones on Tuesday, October 5, when Nigeria joined the world to commemorate the 2021 World Teachers’ Day (WTD), with the theme, “Teachers at the heart of education recovery.”
The week-long event began with a pre-event press conference addressed by minister of state for education, Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba, in Abuja. It continued with a symposium and later culminated in an “elaborate” event at Eagle Square, Abuja, where outstanding teachers were “handsomely” rewarded.
It was a moment of recompense from the Federal Government and its agencies for the teachers who have, unarguably, distinguished themselves professionally, administratively and otherwise, on the platform of President’s Teachers’ and Schools Excellence Awards.
The President’s award was initiated to appreciate teachers with outstanding records of diligence, commitment and dedication to the teaching profession, as well as schools and administrators that have done well in education service delivery.
The general saying that hard work pays was practically justified in the lives of these basic and secondary school teachers whose amazing diligence and outstanding commitment to duty was openly recognized and rewarded by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The awards came in the form of presidential recognition certificates, new cars, school bus, refrigerators, generators, laptops and desktop computers, and several other teaching and learning items.
After a rigorous and transparent selection process by team of credible Nigerians, a teacher from Anambra State, Bridget Maduchim Nnabueze, from Modebe Memorial Secondary School, Onitsha, emerged the best public school teacher in Nigeria, thus winning a brand new Hyundai car, being the grand prize in the 2021 President’s Teachers’ and Schools Excellence Award.
Owoeye Femi Samuel, from Isan Secondary School, Isan Ekiti, Ekiti State, emerged first runner-up, while Obiwumi Temitope Salmot, from Wahab Folawiyo High School, Ikoyi, Lagos, emerged second runner-up.
Similarly, Ogunleye Samuel of Emerald High School, Mowe, Ogun State, won a brand new car as the best private school teacher in Nigeria, while Apeh Simon, from Zamani College, Kaduna, and Oludare Jeremiah, from Bibo-Oluwa Academy, were rewarded as first and second runners-up, respectively.
Bolade Junior Grammar School, Oshodi, Lagos, won a new school bus as the best public school in Nigeria, while Greater Tomorrow International College, Arigidi Akoko, Ondo State, won a new school bus as the best private school in Nigeria. Also, Nuhu Musa Zuru, from Government Secondary School, Kubwa, Abuja, emerged the best school administrator, with a new car attached to the award.
There were cheers and jubilation, mostly from the Anambra delegation, when the top winner, Bridget Maduchim Nnabueze, was invited to the podium to collect the key to the Hyundai car. Her family, friends and colleagues from her school and the state joined in the celebration.
Several government officials that presented awards to different winners congratulated them for their individual and collective contributions to educational development in Nigeria and demanded more from the teachers.
They appreciated the role of teachers in human and societal development, stressing that the world would have been wallowing in ignorance and darkness if not for teachers.
Nwajiuba, who represented President Buhari at the event, congratulated the award-winning teachers and encouraged others who could not win to follow in the footsteps of the winners so they would stand a better chance next year.
The President reassured the teachers of government’s commitment to their welfare and wellbeing, as evident in the pronouncements made during last year’s event, on which actions have followed.
He said: “The revitalization and re-positioning of teachers is already in course and will significantly impact on relevant issues, notably, pre-service training, remuneration, in-service training, retirement, special allowances, assistance to own low-cost houses, etc.
“There will be more advocacy and consensus building with relevant stakeholders, including state governments and others, to realize all the targets that will re-position the 21st century teacher in Nigeria.
“I assure you that the implementation of most of the targets in the repositioning of teachers will be achieved by January 2022. However, I want you all to know that teachers’ welfare is paramount in the scheme of things and negotiations are ongoing to ensure that your salary is prioritized. As you celebrate the 2021 WTD, always remember that to whom much is given, much is expected.”
He challenged the teachers and their umbrella body, the Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), to reflect on the past and reciprocate the landmark gesture by explicitly committing to the provision of excellent service delivery. This, he observed, would complement government’s efforts to provide and sustain quality education for all.
President, Nigeria Union of Teachers (NUT), Dr. Nasir Idris, in his remarks, registered his concerns on the poor and unsafe working condition of teachers particularly in volatile areas, stating that many teachers have died in the course of service to humanity.
He thanked the President for the kind consideration and assured him that more contributions would come from the teachers as regards the development of Nigeria.