I write excitedly from Abuja where I arrived in the company of four teachers who have been nominated by the Federal Ministry of Education, Abuja as awardees in the President’s Teachers and Schools Excellence Award (PTSEA) in celebration of the 2021 World Teachers day. October 5 every year provides the opportunity for teachers to be celebrated everywhere world over. Our dear country, Nigeria, uses the opportunity too through the PTSEA to appreciate teachers, administrators and schools all over the country who have maintained excellence in teaching and learning. The awards are in the following categories: teacher category involving teachers of primary and secondary schools (public and private); administrator’s category involving public schools head teachers and principals, schools category involving private and public primary and secondary schools. Like this year, the grand celebration is usually at Eagles square where various education stakeholders gather to celebrate the teaching profession. Anambra State in the last five years has been the cynosure of all eyes as they have always carted away the prizes provided for excellent teachers, administrators and schools by Mr President! These prizes are mouthwatering including vehicles, fridges, computers, photocopying machines, etc

In 2017, Mr Clement OKodo, a primary school teacher at Abagana won the overall best teacher in Nigeria; he went home with a brand new car. Amala Ezenwa, a head teacher at Awada IV Obosi in 2018 took home another brand new car when she won the overall best administrator in Nigeria, while Dr. Mrs. Vera Uju Ikegwuani of Anglican Girls Grammar School Onitsha, won the fourth position in best Administrator category, taking home several prizes. 2019 was a harvest of awards for Anambra as the State won awards in all the categories: overall best administrator, Rev Sr Onwuadi of Maria Regina Model Secondary School, Nnewi took away a brand new car; Flora Azikiwe Secondary School, Neni went home with a bus as the overall best public school in Nigeria; Dr Samuel Izuegbu and Gabriel Izuegbunam carted home prizes as 2nd runner up best public school teacher and 1st runner up best private school teacher in Nigeria, respectively. Out of the five vehicles that were provided as awards, Anambra State took away two! In 2020, Grundtvig International Secondary School Oba, won the overall best private secondary school in Nigeria and came home with a bus.

This year, we are here with Bridget Nnabeze, a teacher at Modebelu Memorial Secondary School, Onitsha; Njideka Nwoye, the principal of Our Lady’s Secondary School, Onitsha, Amaka Azuka Nzekwe, a teacher at All Saints Primary School Nkpor Agu and Ifeoma Nwankwo, representing Akpakaogwe Primary school, Ogidi, that has been nominated in the schools category.

I feel highly excited as in all the years of Gov Willie Obiano and I have been the Commissioner, the Education family has shown great prowess. How can we forget 2015, when Loretto Special Science School was named by the Federal Ministry of Education as the best senior secondary school in Nigeria? They have a vehicle from Gov Obiano to show for it. That year also the following were honoured by FME: Sancta Maria Primary School, Onitsha (best primary school), QRC Onitsha (best junior secondary school); Angela Obodozie (best school administrator, junior secondary); Julie Ofoefuna (best administrator, senior secondary); Late Rev Sr Ntiajokwu (best classroom teacher). In 2014, the following were equally recognized: Mater Amabilis secondary school, Umuoji (3rd best senior secondary school); Ngozi Agbasimalo (Best administrator senior secondary school); All Saints Primary school, Onitsha (best primary school). The list of the laurels and awards are endless!

If the teachers have done well, the students and pupils have done even better. You have imbued in the students and pupils, that zeal for healthy competition, winning laurels both at national and international levels. You have taught the students to believe in themselves, ingraining in their minds the ‘can do spirit’. Together, we have moved the percentage of students scoring credits in five subjects, including English and Mathematics from 60.98 percent in 2014 to 73.93 percent in 2019. Together we have fought examination malpractices, championing His Excellency’s mandate for value based education! With determination, we can do more on this as there is infinite room for improvement and excellence.

My dear teachers, as we celebrate the world teachers’ day today, I want to remind you that we have come a long way. We have trudged with determination and conquered the ICT world. We can beat our chest that we are better than we were in computer literacy. We have demystified the world of ICT and opened doors for infinite possibilities. We have created in you that search for knowledge and like Ulysses of Alfred Lord Tennyson we have become ‘strong in will to strive to seek, to find and not to yield’. I celebrate you for your determination, your commitment, your desire for self-improvement and your passion to teach the young ones under your care!

As you celebrate your day, may it provide you the opportunity for self-reflection about how much you have as a person, contributed to the drive to give umu akwukwo Anambra, education that is globally competitive? Let today be a day for you to reflect on some biblical quotes on teachers: Romans 12:7 advises: “If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well.” Romans 2:21 admonishes: “Well then, if you teach others, why don’t you teach yourself? You tell others not to steal, but do you steal?” As you celebrate your day today, I charge you to be role models and inspiration to the children put under your care. Continue to seek self-improvement, continue to be the best you are!

I am proud of your dear teachers, proud of all your accomplishments, proud for whom you have become, proud of the greater things you shall accomplish. Proud that our paths crossed these seven years plus…. God bless all of you.

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