The Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary defines education as “a process of teaching, training and learning, especially in schools or colleges to improve knowledge and develop skills”.
It would be appropriate to state that the teacher is the definition of the education industry because to be able to educate people successfully, teachers have to be trained to take people through the process until graduation or completion.
History of award
This, therefore, explains why it is important that teachers are motivated to teach effectively and efficiently, thus the establishment of the National Best Teacher Award Scheme in October 1994 by the Ministry of Education then under the leadership of Mr Harry Romulus Sawyer of blessed memory to recognise and reward the country’s hard working teachers.
Therefore, the courage to continue that successful beginning by other governments and Ministers of Education has brought Ghana this far and Ghanaians has every reason to celebrate the 21st edition of the National Best Teacher Award Scheme with pride.
As the years went by, the awards were extended from teaching staff to non-teaching staff in all public educational institutions up to the colleges of education. One significant aspect of the awards was the inclusion of the United States Peace Corps volunteers and Ghana’s National Service Persons in the teaching field and that has remained till date.
This year’s celebration
The venue for celebrating the event has rotated from region to region over the years and today, October 5, as we celebrate this occasion in Tamale, the Northern Regional capital, on the theme “Empowering teachers; building sustainable societies”, it is imperative to call on teachers to reflect on their roles and responsibilities as the government and sponsors continue to motivate them.
The theme for the celebration is indeed a wake-up call to all stakeholders of the education industry to appreciate the fact that motivating and empowering teachers to efficiently and effectively discharge their role and responsibility in quality education delivery cannot be overemphasised and therefore in the right direction.
Excellence, professionalism and dedication
In the light of this, it is important to remind all stakeholders that the main purpose of the award scheme is to award excellence, professionalism and the dedication of both teachers and non-teaching staff of the Ghana Education Service (GES) for quality education delivery.
This is informed by the fact that teachers must rise up to the task by working even harder than before to justify the institution of the award scheme 21 years ago and other interventions by the government to enhance performance.
It is significant to say that sponsors and all beneficiaries of the products of education will appreciate this broad concept of recognising teachers’ contributions towards quality education delivery.
This year’s event will attract a total of 412 teachers to be honoured at the national level while 360 and 3,312 teachers will be honoured at the regional and district levels.
It is important to commend the Ministry of Education for repackaging the award scheme into the National Best Teacher and Best School Awards aimed at ensuring that the best school in terms of performance in academic and extra-curricular activities is also recognised as a way of motivating and recognising the work of both teachers and students as well as parents and guardians as a team in collaboration to deliver quality education to the good people of Ghana.
Just as the Best Teacher Award was based strictly on a selection criterion, so is the Best Schools Award. The best schools would be selected on management and administration, uniqueness and innovativeness, staff performance assessment, pupils/students work output and academic status for at least five years.
The rest are functional school management committees/boards, school and community relationship, school environment or climate, under-served schools with 75 per cent passes in BECE/WASSCE and infrastructure among others.
The Best School Award would be a shared glory not to an individual teacher but to all the teachers and students/ pupils of the school and indeed to the members of the community in which the school is located.
It is equally important to commend all the sponsors of the award scheme notably SIC Life Insurance who gave out goods worth GH¢90,000 and a life insurance cover to selected winners, RLG who donated $20,000, Korkork Publishers GHc10,000 cash and books worth GH¢9,000 and IPMC which will render special support to the best school.
Others are Sedco Publishers who supported the event with GH¢10, 000 and books worth GH¢5,000 and Aktech Suppliers who donated cash and books totalling GHc15, 000.
To improve performance, the government is currently training 31,000 teachers in the use of ICT in teaching and 30,000 laptops are being distributed to teachers across the country.
In a related development, 700 basic and senior high school teachers have received training in Mathematics to sharpen and upgrade their skills, while 250 Science teachers and school laboratory assistants have also been trained to be abreast of the times.
All these interventions by the government through the Ministry of Education must be appreciated by all, especially teachers in the classrooms and continue to dialogue with the appropriate authorities to have their grievances addressed peacefully.
On the occasion of the 21st anniversary of the Best Teacher Award Scheme, it is necessary to appeal to all partners in the education industry, especially the Ministries of Education, Finance and Economic Planning, Employment and Labour Relations as well as the Ghana Education Service, Fair Wages and Salaries Commission, Ghana Labour Commission, Controller and Accountant-General and the Auditor-General Departments, to endeavour to put their acts together to resolve all issues threatening the peaceful industrial atmosphere within the professional teacher labour unions and their employer, the GES, and therefore the government.
The writer is a public relations practitioner with the Ministry of Education (E-mail:email@example.com)