Oluwabunmi Anani, an English Language and Literature teacher at Concordia College, Yola, Adamawa State is the recipient of the 2020 National Maltina Teacher of the Year Award. She spoke on how the award has spurred her to put in even more in her work.
What was it like winning the National Maltina Teacher of the Year Award?
Winning the National Maltina Teacher of the Year Award was another defining moment for me. It was like a reconfirmation of my choice to go on the teaching path. Before that point, many questions about my decision were beginning to tug at my heartstrings. Only one thing kept those questions at bay, a deep-seated conviction.
Clinching the Maltina Teacher Award gave my conviction further impetus as it invigorated my resolve to be more committed, more selfless, more confident about my profession, and more unswerving.
How has that changed my life?
The Maltina Teacher Award has positively changed my life in many ways. It has made me a more introspective and grateful person. It jolted me to a long-held belief that one should never give up but remain consistent.
The award has opened me up to better acquaintances, opportunities, and expectations. It is making me more sensitive to the urgent needs around me like the plight of the children and teenagers of the Internally Displaced. It is helping me to be more intentional about my input as a teacher. I’m acutely more inclined towards technology (a necessity precipitated by the COVID-19 disruption). I’m more involved with my community of educators, and more confident about being a 21st-century teacher.
What is special about what you do as a teacher?
Well, I believe that of all the things I do, one thing stands out for me: my determination to give myself and my time to see that my students do well, fall in love with my subject (English Language) and go on to study it as a course in the university.
I’m passionate about my students. I’m passionate about their success in their external examinations. I go out of my way to be there for them anytime they need me. I provide my free services as their teacher who is personally committed to their success, by God’s grace. Above all, I carry the badge of a teacher with a professional pride that shows we are proud of who we are and what we are called to do.
Do you think teaching in a private school gives you an edge over others?
While I currently teach in a private secondary school, I attended a public secondary school as a student.
If I were to teach in a public school, I do not think that would have made any difference to my emerging the national winner. Besides, our public schools equally boast of well-trained teachers who have the wherewithal to do their work well!
The difference between the public school teacher and the private school teacher is not in their content or ability. Public school teachers teach as well as private school teachers.
The difference is in the conditions and environment of operation; place a public school teacher in a conducive environment that is properly supervised, and you will see them perform wonders.
So, I do not think that working with a private or public school gives anyone aspiring for the Maltina Teacher Award an edge. I strongly know that the parameters are clearly premised upon the individual as a professional teacher amongst other intrinsic considerations, and not the establishment.
As a female, what challenges do you encounter in carrying out your duty?
As the only female teacher handling SSS3 students in the midst of male teachers, I’d say it’s not been a walk in the park. Though it’s been tough, I’ve really enjoyed the support of my male colleagues because we work as a team! The challenges are, however, connected with issues of discipline and work. With the support of my superior officers who stand with me in my decisions and insistence, as well as the support of the male teachers, I’m able to prevail on the erring students to do the right thing.
Are you considering applying for the Global Teachers Prize contest and why?
When I give positive consideration to applying for the Global Teacher Prize, the motivation would be borne of the need to challenge myself towards doing more, not to rest on my oars, and to draw inspiration from the rare courage of Ranjitsinh Disale and Olasunkanmi Opeifa.
What is your assessment of public school teachers in the country?
Our public school teachers were good, and are still good. If there is any snag about their performance, then it’s either such a teacher is not operating within the best of conditions or environment; or we question the recruitment process of such a person – otherwise, our teachers in the public schools are as good as the ones in the private schools.
In your opinion how can the government attract more hands into the profession, especially women?
To attract more hands into the teaching profession, I believe the Lagos State government, for instance, is doing a great job.
If awards are instituted to recognise teachers’ initiative, creativity, and hard work, it would go a long way to encourage others about the possibility of a future in the teaching profession; when intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is given to teachers in the form of better salaries, intentional housing schemes for teachers, government funds like the TETfund for secondary school teachers to enable them to pursue further education and do meaningful research.
Also, better learning and teaching environment, better retirement plan for teachers, scholarship for their children, a sanitised system devoid of exam malpractices, these would serve to attract brains into the teaching profession. It should be noted that these should be extended to all teachers whether in the private or public schools.