Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu fulfilled his promise to give outstanding teachers brand new cars on Tuesday. KOFOWOROLA BELO-OSAGIE reports on what stood some of the 12 teachers out.
ith used cars costing an arm and a leg, it was no surprise that the 12 public school teachers who were rewarded with brand new cars during the Year 2020 Teachers Merit Award on Tuesday were beside themselves with joy.
The 2020 edition of the merit award was a departure from the past that used to feature only one person named as the Teacher of the Year winning a car from the government.
The 12 teachers expressed their excitement about getting the cars in various ways – some kneeling, screaming, and jumping at the event held at the sports pavilion of the Lagos House, Alausa.
Some of them said they had worked so hard under challenging conditions without knowing that they would one day be celebrated like they were at the event.
The Lagos State government organised a grand ceremony to honour the outstanding teachers which featured performances by the Lagos State school choral team and orchestra songstress, Elizabeth Olaitan and had in attendance the Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu; his deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat; the Commissioners for Education and Information, Mrs. Folasade Adefisayo and Mr. Gbenga Omotoso; the Chairman Lagos State Universal Basic Education Board (LASUBEB), Mr. Wahab Alawiye-King, among other top government functionaries.
Twenty-three primary and secondary school teachers shortlisted from a pool of about 3,700 that applied attended the event from among whom the 12 car winners emerged.
In interviews with The Nation, some of the teachers spoke about their work with learners and what motivates them to give their best.
Mrs. Abosede Padonu-Daniel said she was teaching in a rural school, Akinlade Primary School, in Eti-Osa close to the sea. Regardless, she said she grew professionally by teaching the pupils.
She said: “I am overwhelmed because while I was doing the work, in fact, today, I was remembering how I started on the job, and, sincerely speaking, I have had the privilege to grow on the job as I met every child. At times they would take me to remote areas to go and teach like Okun Mopo in Eti Osa but to God be the glory today while I was hidden in that bush, God located me. I thank Mr Governor for the opportunity I won’t take it for granted.”
The French and Social Studies graduate said she was inspired to become a committed teacher because of her primary school teacher who took interest in every child in his class.
“One of my inspirations is my primary school teacher that taught me in primary six, Mr. Badejo of blessed memory. He really inspired me; he took his time to pay attention to everyone in class and I took that baton from him right from primary school. I am happy and proud to be a teacher,” she said.
The significance of becoming a car owner was such that Mrs. Daniel knelt by her new car with hands raised to the Almighty in praises.
She said it was prayers answered.
Speaking on the car gift, Mrs. Daniel said she had been praying for a car.
“This is my first car. I have always told God I needed a car. In January I had an accident that almost claimed my two legs but I am happy I can stand on my legs right now celebrating because I was telling God that I actually needed a car to make my mobility better but here I am standing with a car beside me,” she said.
Principal, Gbagada Comprehensive Junior High School, Gbagada, Mrs. Ovinuyon Buhari, said many of her subordinates felt she was over doing things because of her passion for her pupils. She said being named among the best was just reward for all her efforts.
“I can see that the job of a teacher is not in vain and it is recognised. The governor has done this and it will go a long way to motivate other teachers who feel that we are overdoing things. They will be telling you ‘Oga, you stress too much;’ ‘You always want good things for your students.’ And I would say, ‘Yes’ and I’m happy that someone has identified and has rewarded us,” she said.
Mrs. Buhari said she was passionate about her pupils’welfare and follows up on them during holidays and even after graduation.
“For me, I have passion for my students and I look out for them even during the crises period. During COVID-19, I went out all out first to give palliative with the support of an NGO that supported us; and then for online classes with them – visiting them, counselling them even when they have psychological problems. We are learning and at the same time we take care of them and give them psychosocial support as well.
“For my teachers, I encourage them to do self-development. I signed them up for courses abroad, courses online so that they can be better than when they started work. So many of them are proud to say that they are better than when they started off and it’s so good that we see improvement in learning outcomes of the students,” she said.
Another teacher, Mr. Tolulope Odusanya, said his passion to break down chemistry to his pupils made him go all out to help them improve.
Odusanya, who has won the Lagos State prize for the Maltina Teacher of the Year Award twice, said the car gift was a fitting reward for all the hard work.
He said: “When I discovered that I was part of the 23 that they invited, I was thanking God because sometimes it is not about your hard work; sometimes you need a little of grace and a little of favour. Therefore, when they selected the 23 and I was one of them, I knew God is taking me somewhere. I saw the grace and I quickly tapped it and began to pray and work even harder.
“When I was called for the interview, when it was the time for me to showcase what I will be doing, it was not a dull moment for me. I was able to put a lot of things together. I was able to show the judges, because they were from the private sector, that since 2011, I have been doing this particular thing, abd each year I have a recommendation for it. They all fell in love with what I said and right from there, I knew that I was going to be one of the finalists.”
Odusanya said as a result of his guidance, many of his students got scholarships and were doing well.
“The majority of them are in the university on scholarship, and doing so well. l see them excelling. Then with our entrepreneurship module together with what they are doing, I know they have an edge over others,” he said.
Chairman of the Nominations Committee, who is the director of Green Springs School, Lai, Mrs Koiki said the biggest finding for her screening public school teachers was that there were many passionate teachers of good quality in public schools.
“For me it was their passion. They were genuinely interested in the students. Can you imagine a teacher that followed many students through the secondary school, then to the university, then to the work place? I mean it is incredible. And these are not just things that we were told; they showed us evidence. Most of the things we are talking about are not just hear-say. We demanded for evidence of these things and so they are real,” she said.
In her address, Mrs. Adefisayo said this year’s merit award featured a committee dominated by private sector educators to ensure transparency.
“Permit me, to appreciate the great work of the nomination committee, made up of private school owners and retired government functionaries. They designed and executed a thorough and transparent system of screening and selection of the nominees.
“For this impressive process, done gratis, I will like to invite the Chairman of the Committee Mrs. Lai Koiki and other members, to stand up for recognition: Mrs. Funke Fowler-Amba, Mrs Yinka Ogunde, Mr Idris Adetutu, Mrs. Abisola Obasanya, Mrs. Sherifat Ogboye, Miss Oyindamola Egbeyemi,” she said.
Addressing the teachers, Sanwo-Olu said they had become the state’s ambassadors and should justify the award they got.
“I want to congratulate the 23 recipients. You are and will continue to serve as our ambassadors of excellence for the next one year. We will be monitoring you. We will not leave you alone; we will continue to ensure that we check your output and your interaction with your pupils. You certainly must justify your award by working harder,” he said.
The other nine car winners were: Adesola Akindele, Temitope Gbadamosi, Temitope Ibiwunmi, Rasheed Odenike, Rebecca Oyinloye, Oluwaseun Balogun, Joshua Olasehinde, Ekundayo Ajiborisade, and Tawakalitu Akinleye.
All 23 winners got tablets and plaques. The 11 who did not get cars were presented with deep freezers.