Uzoamaka Bridget Okafor, a teacher at Mama Aziki Comprehensive Secondary School, Senchi, Z uru, Kebbi state and Chibuihe Light Obi, a teacher at Saint Maria Gorreti Catholic College, Obowo Okigwe, Imo state, have been named joint winners of the inaugural Words Rhymes & Rhythm Nigerian Teachers Award (WRR-NTA) 2016.
Both teachers will receive N10,000 cash and a certificate of award each from the CEO of Words Rhymes & Rhythm, Kukogho Iruesiri Samson, as a token of appreciation and encouragement.
UZOAMAKA has taught English language, Literature in English and CRS for over 30 years. She earned her National Certificate in Education (NCE) from Federal College of Education in Kontogora, Niger state. She then proceeded to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria for her first degree and later did her Post Graduate Diploma and Masters Degree at Usmanu Danfodio University, Sokoto (UDUS). She is married with her children, biological and adopted.
The person who nominated her wrote:
“She single handedly groomed me and several other children in English Language to the extent it covered for the school’s deficiency and I ended up reading Mass communication in English and I am currently a practicing journalist. She has and is still teaching in rural areas and community secondary schools in Kebbi state. She has taught in Mahuta, Dabai, Zuru among others.
Even though her wards are mainly secondary school student, she also volunteers to teach women, mothers, grandmothers who have no formal training on how to read and write to the extent that several of them wrote Junior Secondary school examinations.”
OBI is a teacher, poet, memoirist and creative photography enthusiast. He won second place in the BABISHAI NIWE Haiku prize, and has a chapbook coming from Praxis magazine. His writings aim to interrogate language, identity and memory; to probe silence and confront stereotype. His works have been published in places like The Kalahari Review, Praxis magazine, Expound magazine, Brittle paper, Black boy review, Sun newspaper and other places.
The people who nominated him wrote:
“Chibuihe-Light Obi is a dedicated to helping his students develop skills not only in language and literature, but in life. Literature-in-English to SS I, SS II and SS III students”
“He is an outstanding teacher who established a local book club in my neighborhood where children read and exchange ideas.”
“He is erudite scholar in English Language/Literature teacher in one rural community. He is proud to be a rural teacher even though young unlike his counterparts.”
Jennifer Chinenye Emelife, who reviewed the nominations wrote:
Aristotle once said, ‘those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.’
Sadly, it’s a different story in Nigeria, and probably in other parts of the world. As a teacher, I’ve known what it is like to be looked down on by people who think working in banks or hospitals or oil companies are the only ‘serious’ careers that there are.
I’ve many times been told that I’m too brilliant to be a teacher. But then what business does an empty head have with the board? We need to change these stereotypes.
This narrative that a teacher only teaches as a last resort, that brilliant and smart looking people can’t be teachers, that young beautiful women and handsome men can’t be teachers. That, because teachers are paid peanuts, they are poor and sad humans.
We need to begin to talk more about how to improve the standard of education, teacher salary/remuneration and respect for the profession, because every one of us was once taught by a teacher. Because to a large extent, whether we know this or not, we owe some of our greatest successes to them.
It was World Teachers’ Day last week Wednesday, and when Kukogho Iruesairi Samson informed me that I’d be judge for the WRR Nigerian Teacher Award 2016, I was glad and grateful to him for bringing up such initiative to honour us, especially those in rural areas.
It is my hope that in future, many organizations in Nigeria will take lead from Words Rhymes & Rhythm (WRR) and maybe we can have our own National Award for Teachers.
I’m therefore delighted to announce that out of 24 nominations, the joint inaugural winners for the WRR Nigerian Teacher Award 2016 are Uzoamaka Okafor of Mama Aziki Comprehensive High School, Senchi, Zuru, Kebbi state and Chibuihe Light Obi of Saint Maria Gorreti Catholic College, Obowo Okigwe. It was a tough choice picking one winner.
I have selected Uzoamaka Okafor, for her love for education, grooming students, both in school and out of school, for over 30 years in Northern Nigeria with all the challenges that come with acquiring western education in that part of the country, and Chibuihe Light Obi, for dedicating his youthfulness and enthusiasm to nurturing and inspiring the younger generation, and wearing the teacher tag so proudly.
Congratulations, dear teachers. To the rest of the nominees, we say thank you. We see your hard work, we appreciate you. Keep the passion burning!
Jennifer Chinenye Emelife
Teacher and Writer
At WRR Ltd, we strongly believe that teachers are one of the most important professional groups in any human society and should be accorded due respect. It is based on this belief that we instituted the WRR-NTA. We hope to increase the prize money in the 2017 edition.