The Inoyo Toro Foundation’s (ITF”s) yearly ritual of honouring hard working Akwa Ibom teachers continued last November in Uyo, the state capital with a total of 15 teachers netting awards in five subject categories.
In the English Language category, Mrs. Patricia Cletus Effiong from Presbyterian Senior Science School, Ididep clinched the first position. There were no winners for the second and third positions.
In mathematics, Regina John Udo and Philomena Etiusen Akpna (both from State College, Ikot Ekpene) secured the first and third positions respectively, while Bassey Nyong Bassey (Odoto Ikono Secondary school, Mbiabong Ikot Udofia) came second.
In the Biology category, Eno Ernest Okokon (Mary Hanney Secondary school), Noah Cyril Noah (Ikot Eba, Etinan) and Glory Okon Abia (Community Secondary school, Eyoabasi, Oron), came first, second and third respectively.
Ufon Dick Urom (Nothern Annang Secondary Commercial School, Utu, Etim Ekpo), Mfon David Umoh (Government Comprehensive Secondary school, Amadaka Eastern Obolo) and Emem Udo Ubom (Ediene Community Secondary school, Ikot Ayan Ikono) got the first, second and third positions respectively in Physics.
The Chemistry category winners include: Okon Sunday Bassey (Methodist Senior Science College, Oron) first; Enoch Harry Esong (Community Secondary School. Mbiakot) second and Wilson Bassey Peter (Odoro Ikono Secondary school, Mbiabond Ikot Udofia) third.
For the maiden Fine Art category, Mfon Okon Essien (State College, Ikot Ekpene), Joseph William Udoka (Ikot Ekpene) and Affiong Victor Bassey (CCC Afaha Oku, Uyo) clinched the first, second and third positions respectively.
The first prize winners in the subject categories got N250,000; second – N150,000 and third – N100,000.
A total of 190 contestants, made up 17 English, 17 Mathematics, 17 Biology, 29 Chemistry, 22 Physics and seven Fine Arts teachers qualified for the selection test. The benchmarks for assessing the schools were: the learning environment; availability of laboratories, libraries and the schools’ respective scores.
Each teacher was then assessed on his or her productivity and professional competence. The final selection process, divided into two parts, entailed a 40-minute aptitude test, based on the West African Examination Council’s (WAEC) syllabus and a second oral examination, taken by those who passed the first written test reasonably well.
For the Fine Art teachers however, the second aspect involved an assessment of the art works produced by their respective students, of which the teachers had no prior knowledge.
For the Grand Mentors’ Awards, for which the foundation challenges past winners to produce their kind through regular mentoring of other teachers in their subject areas within their neighbourhoods, the mentor must also pass a written test, in addition to his or her field performance. Eleven mentors (Mathematics-1, Biology-2, Chemistry-3, Physics-3 and English Language-2) sat for the screening test. Three were successful in Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry, but no mentor got the required cut off mark in the English Language and Biology categories.
According to the chairman of the award screening committee, Dr Enobong Joshua, Fine Art was added to the list because “this subject has been discovered to be almost extinct in our schools.”
He said: “Only a few schools present students for the external examinations in the subject and yet, in these days of the dire need for job creation, it is one area that can provide self employment more quickly than any other. The foundation therefore seeks to encourage the development of this subject by rewarding the teachers who have been working in this subject with little or no attention.”
He also observed that both the screening process and written tests were handled in line with the preset rules and procedures “with transparency and integrity.” The examiners, two per subject, “were carefully selected from the University of Uyo.”
Speaking on the need for a “Tipping Point,” guest speaker and Chief Operating Officer of MTN Nigeria, Mr. Michael Ikpoki, observed that owing to the changes taking place at a rapid rate across all spheres all over the world, there was an urgent need to adequately equip the children with the needed skills to tap from the emerging opportunities.
His words: “If you’ve ever felt a wave of panic or concern about your ability to keep up with change in this current age, then consider that the speed with which scientific and technological advances continue to happen and the never-ending globalization shrinking our world into one village, means that our children will be dealing with much more in far less time. Therefore, not making deliberate, consistent preparations to equip them will be akin to sending them into sub-zero temperatures with inappropriate clothing. They will simply be unable to function, easily left behind by those already braced to battle the extreme weather.”
Describing teachers as “critical influencers who can unleash fresh potential, drive pace with change and build considerable leverage for Nigeria on the global stage,” Ikpoki urged them to be prepared to imbibe new thinking and shun unprogressive ideas, in order to prepare students for an open innovative world of transformation and interdependencies.
In an earlier emotional opening remarks, Mrs. Margaret Lucy, a retired Irish teacher who taught in Akwa Ibom state taught for about 50 years commended the ITF for instituting the awards which “would encourage teachers to work hard.” Underscoring the importance of education, she narrated the story of one of her pupils in the early 70s, who would have ditched schooling after an impressive secondary academic record. “God helped me to pay his school fees and for a long time I did not see him again. Many years later, I got a facebook friendship request and it turned out to be him. He had gone to read an aspect of science that I don’t understand and had a PhD.” She said the life of the boy would have turned out otherwise if he had not had the opportunity of continuing with his education.
The ITF was founded in 2007 to improve Akwa Ibom’s education standard, using teachers as a focal point to complement the state government’s efforts in enhancing the quality of education. Apart from the annual awards for teachers, the foundation also organizes periodic training programmes for teachers and ICT skill acquisition workshops for students.