I devote quality time for my students’ success – 2021 Teacher of the year | Dailytrust

I devote quality time for my students’ success – 2021 Teacher of the year

Abanika Taiye
Abanika Taiye

Abanika Taiye, a Technical Drawing teacher with James Hope College, Agbor, Delta State, who is the recipient of the 2021 Maltina Teacher of the Year award, in this interview, spoke on the feat and some of the challenges faced by teachers among others.

How is it like winning the Maltina Teacher of the year prize?

It is a great thing to honour teachers considering the popular saying that teachers’ reward is in heaven. So I am extremely happy and excited. I am also full of appreciation to Nigerian Breweries PLC the organiser of the Maltina Teacher of the Year Award and I am motivated to do more in that which I am passionate about.

How has that changed your life?

This award has brought me out of the shell to the public domain as I am now a public figure with lots of attention from many people. It boosts my morale; add more money to my pocket, and fame to the school I teach in, the locality and Delta State at large.

What is special about what you do as a teacher?

Well, teaching is beyond just imparting knowledge, skills and values to the students in one subject area. I teach with passion and give adequate care to my students in terms of academic, social, economic and emotional wellbeing. I devote more time to their successes and productivity during engagement.

Considering the impression by many about public schools, would you say being a teacher in a private school gave you an edge over them

 There is no doubt that good teaching enhances students’ performance and willingness to be in class to learn each day. An average teacher, irrespective of being in a public or private setting, will do well with adequate teaching resources that stand the test of time and proper educational structures and facilities.

 To be candid, there are more to mere having a negative impression about public school teachers’ teaching ability. The assumption will make sense if all the 21st-century school requirements are put in place in all public schools and the teachers are well motivated as well as given the dignity they deserve.

What gave me an edge, apart from my experience and the mastery of the pedagogies, is that my school created an enabling environment for both teachers and students to engage well into the nitty-gritty of the teaching and learning processes.

What challenges do you encounter in carrying out your duty? 

The challenges in carrying out my duty are lack of adequate attention to technical and vocational subjects like the one I teach by the school handlers and also inadequate time on the school timetable for my subject and teaching space. Though, my experience in teaching has made it possible for me to turn these challenges into positive achievements for my students and myself.

Are you considering applying for the Global Teachers Prize contest and why?

Sure, I will apply for the Global Teacher Prize Award because I want to gain more recognition and add another feather to my career as a teacher. And to also bring the inherent benefit to my community and nation at large.

What is your assessment of public school teachers in the country?

Public school teachers are trying their best based on the circumstances surrounding them and what government at all levels have placed before them. If the enabling environment is there for them and they are motivated, better things will come from them and issues such as examination malpractice, students poor performance, and indulging in social vices due to lack of proper engagement of our youths will be curbed and the lost glory of the sector recovered.

 We should note that a country cannot grow beyond the level of its education and a teacher cannot perform where he/she lacks the necessary tools to function to full capacity.

In your opinion, how can the government attract more hands into the profession?

Government can attract more capable hands into the teaching profession by making education in the country its priority as development, civilisation and advancement are gotten through education.

It should also make the teaching profession a lucrative one with better salary structure, incentives, training packages for all, and salaries higher than other professions as teachers lay the foundation for them.

 In Nigeria, those doing better (the haves) look down on the have not. So the products of teachers now have more than the teachers as they occupy positions of authority where they seize teachers’ salaries or pay them in percentages. Imagine how they will perform under the yoke of poor salary and these leaders that do not care for their wellbeing.

In line with these, it is a fact that teachers in private schools are doing better because they are well paid; some earn more than a professor in the university even when they teach at the lower strata of education in the country.

They are exposed to new norms or current best practices in education as a result of continual in-house training and continuing professional development (CPD). 

In view of the above situation, government should create a serene and conducive environment with modern teaching resources in all public schools for teaching and learning processes as currently obtained in some private schools in the country.

Also, it should improve facilities at the teachers training institutions across Nigeria such that the teachers are well trained and developed with modern resources.

It should ensure that education at all levels is managed by professionals who are experienced and fresh in the field of education. Government should set up sound and long-term educational goals such that continually follows the dynamics of life in the future and not easily reduced by change of government. This must be purpose-driven for economic growth and development.

There is the impression that private school teachers are being shortchanged by their employers, what is your say on that?

Well, there is no standard structure in most private schools in the country. The mode of operations varies from one to the other. In terms of salary, it mostly depends on the bargaining power and pressing need of the teacher. Teachers can be hired and fired at the slightest provocation. There is no room for teachers’ unionism in most private schools and they do not have a common voice to challenge any case of maltreatment meted to a teacher.

 Sometimes, there are cases of injustice from management but all you hear is that the management decisions are not always popular but supreme.

Similarly, some of the private schools’ owners extort teachers. The teachers are not well paid but their schools keep growing and expanding with more branches while teachers’ salaries remain an arithmetical progression.

However, the private schools to some extent have brought life to education in the country, raised the standard as well as uplifted the status of teachers despite those observed failings.

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