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World Teachers’ Day: Celebrating teachers for sacrifices

5th Oct 2022    |    Source: Graphic Online

Yesterday, I read an inscription on a moving vehicle: “If you can read this, thank a teacher”. Initially, I ignored it but upon a sober reflection I realized the depth of the inscription and it kept me thinking the role of the teacher in my life.

Today, October 5, the focus is on the role of the teacher in impacting knowledge. The day, globally set aside every year to celebrate teachers for their selfless and dedicated service to mankind.

Ghana Teacher Prize

The day is always marked with the award of high performing teachers known as the Ghana Teacher Prize.

All roads lead to the University for Development Studies (UDS), Tamale as the climax of the celebration rolls out at the multi-purpose hall of the university.

With President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo to be ably supported by the Education Minister and the Director-General of the Ghana Education Service (GES) Dr Yaw Osei Adutwum and Professor Kwasi Opoku-Amankwa respectively as well as all those who matter in the educational sector, the focus will be, the one to annex the title of the Most Outstanding Teacher from Ebenezer Kojo Otoo, the 2021 winner.

Aside the ultimate, there are other prizes up for grab including the first and second runner ups, the Best Teacher in Leadership and Administration, first and second runner ups; Best Non-Teaching staff, first and second runner ups; Best Early Grade Teacher; Best Primary School Teacher; Best JHS Teacher and Best SHS/TVET Teacher.

The Ghana Teacher Prize was rebranded in 2017 from the Best Teacher Award to conform to continental and global standards.

The National Teaching Council, the government agency responsible for regulating the teaching profession was tasked to lead the reform and rebrand of the award scheme.

Global Teacher Prize

Since the rebranding to place the Ghanaian teacher at the global level, there has been a lot of achievement by the Ghanaian teacher at the international and global levels.

At the Global Teacher Prize started in 2014, Ghana has been consistent bracing all ought to be part of the top 50 best teachers globally until 2021, when a Mathematics teacher from Achimota Senior High, Greater Accra, Evans Odei was selected among the top 10 best teachers in the world.

Even though a Ghanaian teacher is yet to pick the $1 million prize, their performance at the highest level is something to be reckoned with.

Apart from the Global Teacher, Ghanaian teachers have also made a mark in the Africa Union Teacher Prize.

These developments have lifted the image of the teaching profession to the level that, today, many African countries are taking inspiration from Ghana and instituting national awards for teachers.

The Best Teacher Award, now Teacher Prize was established to boost morale of teachers and to show that their sacrifices have been recognized.

Indeed, gone are the days when it used to be said that the reward of the teacher is in heaven. Now, the reward is right here on earth as winners of the award will be smiling home with handsome prizes.

To be fair, all teachers are winners and it is just that all of them cannot be awarded but it is a recognition an indication that we appreciate their effort.

Condition of teachers

The role of the teacher no doubt, is crucial in the overall development of a country and that was why in 1993, there was a global call for governments to make conscious and deliberate effort to improve the conditions of work of teachers. This call came at the heels of the 1990 Education for All Declaration in Jomtien Thailand.

United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in collaboration with the Education International (EI) in 1994 declared October 5, each year as the World Teachers’ Day. This was in commemoration of the 1966 UNESCO /ILO declaration on the status of teachers.

In 1995, Ghana decided to institute an award scheme to commemorate the day and to celebrate Ghanaian teachers for the incredible sacrifices they make to educate the younger generation.

The major objective of the scheme is to motivate teachers for higher performance and restore the respect the profession should enjoy.

It further aims at retaining qualified teachers and improves their work performance and overall effectiveness in the classroom as was eloquently captured by Vice President Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia at the 2019 GTP, when he said, “there cannot be quality education in Ghana without quality teachers” hence the need to treat teachers well.

Expectation

As Ghana joins the rest of the world to honour teachers, it is expected that teachers will acknowledge this gesture by reciprocating it with more dedication to their duty as role models to the next generation.

It is a fact that some teachers are working under trying conditions especially in the rural areas and it is important that a little more attention is channeled to improving the state of such teachers through scholarships and other motivations.

Even as we acknowledge the trying moments of such teachers, the generality is that children, who unfortunately find themselves in such areas are in an unimaginable disadvantage as they are unable to compete with their urban colleagues.

In such areas, the commitment of teachers to their duties leaves much be desired as rural children are unable to compete with their urban counterparts.

So, as we celebrate the teachers and urge for their working conditions to improve, we also expect that teachers up their game and not toy with the future of the children entrust in them.

Criteria

Briefing Graphic Online, the Public Relations Officer of the NTC Dennis Osei-Owusu explained that the prize was opened to all professionally trained and licensed teachers currently working at the pre-tertiary education space (both private and public), who might have taught for at least five years.

He said applications for the award were judged based on a rigorous set of criteria, to select an extraordinary teacher who made an outstanding contribution to the teaching profession.

Mr Osei-Owusu said the prize underlined the importance of the teaching profession and symbolised the fact that teachers throughout the world deserved to be recognised and celebrated.


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