Mr Eric Asomani, a-39-year-old teacher at Naylor Seventh Day Adventist School at Tema Community-six in the Greater Accra Region, was on Monday crowned the Most Outstanding Teacher in Ghana at the National Teachers’ Day Celebration in Cape Coast.
The enterprising teacher with over 12 years of experience in teaching Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and Integrated Science would be given a three-bedroom house worth GHC180,000.00 and other assorted items during the third edition of the ‘Ghana Teacher Prize’ 2020.
Mrs Gloria Anima Junior, a teacher at Aboabo No. 4 Presbyterian Primary school who was the first runner up took home a 4 by 4 double cabin Pick-Up, while Mrs Sandrah Osei of Akwatia Technical Institute was given a branded saloon car as the second runner up.
In all, 17 others including teaching and non-teaching staff who excelled in their various fields of endeavour were awarded fridges, laptops, flat screens and other assorted prizes.
The awards instituted in 1995, was rebranded in 2018 and dubbed "GhanaTeacher Prize" in line with international standards as the new benchmark to reward teachers who had shown class and distinguished themselves to motivate other teachers to emulate.
Celebrated on the theme: "Teacher leadership in developing crisis education response," the major objective of the awards scheme was to inspire teachers for high performance, restore dignity of the protection, and retain qualified teachers and overall effectiveness in classrooms.
In a speech read on behalf of the President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufu-Addo by Mr Kwamena Duncan, the Central Regional Minister, he commended all teachers for their immeasurable roles in training the nation’s manpower needs.
Citing examples from countries such as Singapore, Finland, Korea, and Canada, the President acknowledged that all developed societies that had outstanding results in training and economic development had shown that teacher quality was the single most important determinant of their success.
“For us to also make success of our nation, we must pay attention to teachers,” he said, adding that it was only a crop of well-trained-self-confident and contented teachers that can deliver the educated and skilled workforce the country required to progress.
As part of efforts to give strong support to the sector, the President said government with support from "Friends of Ghana", in collaboration with the Norwegian Teacher Initiative (NTI) was developing a comprehensive teacher policy through the Ghana Teacher Taskforce.
The project seeks the welfare, conditions of service, professional growth of teachers and other support mechanisms to enable them compete globally and significantly to "influence the way teachers are trained, live their lives, grow in the profession, and attain learning outcomes,”
On the impact of Covid-19 on education, President Akufu-Addo reassured the country of his unflinching commitment to ensure that the Coronavirus pandemic did not truncate education or jeopardize the future of students and commended teachers for their support in that regard.
"I reserve a special praise for our teachers, who helped to make sure the stay of students in school was a success despite the genuine concern of safety raised, coupled with the doom mongering trumpeted by some in the political space, teacher unions cooperated with the Ministry in the discussions and plans, leading to the phased re-opening of schools," the President said.
Dr Matthew Opoku Prempeh, Minister for Education, reiterated Government's commitment to sustaining gains made in education to ensure equal, affordable and accessible education to all.
He re-emphasised that government had doubled up its drive to take advantage of technology via online and other platforms to deliver effective teaching and learning to all learners.
According to him, government had priotised the teachers’ welfare and remained committed to what he described as "Teacher First" policy in ensuring that they were central to any educational reforms, tooled, skilled and supported to deliver quality learning outcomes to support development aspirations.
"We are supporting teachers in their continued professional education by providing a special incentive by way of "professional allowances" for them, and we will continue to provide the necessary support to ensure teacher quality suitable to meet the needs and challenges of our society."
He admonished all to religiously adhere to the Covid-19 protocols and assured that government was working assiduously to protect all school children in schools to enhance their welfare.
"We have also had to find safe ways to open our schools for a limited cohort, the final year students to complete their terminal examinations, and then for the second year JHS, SHS, and continuing students at the University to return to school," he added.
Professor Kwesi Opoku Amankwah, the Director General of the Ghana Education Service, said delivering education in the mist of the pandemic was heavily dependent on the improvisation and creativity and urged them to apply the technical Know-how on knowledge sharing in such times.
He called for sustained partnership with government as government sought to implement Pre-tertiary education policies.
Mrs Philippa Larsen, National President of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT) who read a specch on behalf of all teacher unions thanked them for their years of dedication and commitment to duty in the must of the pandemic and among others and encouraged teachers to upgrade themselves in their chosen fields.