Just before I wrote this article, I decided to recheck the meaning of the word “prize” to be sure if its meaning had not changed. To my relief, the meaning remained the same. The Oxford dictionary defines “prize” as: “A thing given as a reward to the winner of a competition or in recognition of an outstanding achievement.”
I am a trained teacher and so I am highly concerned about anything that affects teachers, particularly in Ghana. I have taught before and I believe it is not over yet.
When the name of the National Best Teachers Award was changed this year to Ghana Teacher Prize, I felt that the meaning of the word “prize” would influence the organisation of the award.
For instance, Daily Graphic’s publication of August 7, 2018, headlined: “National Best Teacher Award rebranded - it’s now Ghana Teacher Prize” quoted the Executive Secretary of the National Teaching Council (NTC), Dr (Mrs) Evelyn Owusu Oduro, of having said that the Ministry of Education was committed to recognising the contributions of hardworking and selfless teachers towards the improvement of education in the country through the teachers’ day celebration.
According to her, the major objective of the scheme was to motivate teachers for higher performance and also restore the respect of the profession and pointed out that the prize was open to teachers in both private and public schools at the pre-tertiary level and teachers on voluntary teaching service.
Dr (Mrs) Oduro was also quoted to have said that in addition to Ghana’s Most Outstanding Teacher Award, other award categories, including Ghana’s Most Outstanding Teacher, first and second runners-up and the Best Pre-School Teacher would be recognised.
When I read these comments from the NTC boss, I was highly convinced that at least, the famous chalkboard computer teacher, Richard Appiah Akoto of the Betenase M/A Junior High School at Sekyedomase in the Ashanti Region would be recognised for his creativity and innovation.
For those of you who might have forgotten about Richard Appiah Akoto’s exploits, let me give you a gist of who he is.
Richard Appiah Akoto, 33, was an ICT teacher at the Betenase M/A Junior High School, where due to the lack of computers in the school, he drew the interface of Microsoft Word on a chalkboard to teach his pupils. Pictures about him and his “chalkboard Microsoft word” went viral and he became a subject of both national and international media.
He took the headlines of many local news portals as well as international news portals, including the BBC, Telegraph, and Independent in the UK.
Following his viral photos, many companies, including Microsoft, donated a number of computers to the school. Similarly, Richard received scholarships from many institutions, including Microsoft to do further studies.
I felt that even if one got recognition to the award scheme by voting or by nomination, the award jury would have recognised this exemplary creativity by this gem. This is because many teachers, particularly those in public schools in rural communities attribute their inability to deliver to the lack of resources.
However, this teacher, faced with a major challenge as an ICT teacher did not allow the situation to serve as an obstacle in teaching ICT in his school—he improvised to teach and he was successful with that. His example has inspired many and upcoming teachers to be innovative and creative.
Let us encourage creativity and innovation in teaching by rewarding or recognizing teachers who demonstrate these attributes. We can only get the best teachers in our classrooms when the teachers are aware that their creativity would be recognised in the National Teachers Prize.