By Andy Esiet, Calabar
The Federal and State Governments and well meaning organizations have been charged to emulate the Inoyo Toro Foundation by giving teachers in Nigeria a better place in the society as they are the backbone of the nation.
Education experts at the 14th edition of the 2021 Annual Inoyo Toro Foundation Teacher Excellence Awards ceremony for teachers in Akwa Ibom state at weekend in E-Library, Uyo, which saw 21 teachers and a principal smiling home with various prizes, said the standard of education in Nigeria is highly threatened and one of the ways out is to award excellence in teachers and also improve on infrastructure.
Already the Akwa Ibom state government has commenced the implementation of a 10 Year Education Road Map which Inoyo Toro Foundation was part of the state Think Tank Committee put in place by Governor Udom Emmanuel to lift the standard of Education in the state.
The Guest Speaker at the ceremony and Proprietor of TopFaith Schools and University, Dr. Emmanuel Abraham while narrating the inspiring story of his humble beginning through thick and thin plus an eight kilometre trek on October 2, 1977 from Mkpatak to Obo Annang Junction just to save some amount to enable him pay his way to resume studies at the University of Calabar, celebrated teachers across the globe, saying, “the teacher is the backbone of our development and the light of our society”.
Abraham stated that, “humanity has relentlessly developed ways to foster comfort, break new frontiers and attain perpetuity in the sustenance of life. Humanity has also, over time, established some values and institutionalized learning systems transferable from one generation to another. In the midst of this continuous effort to uplift humanity, the teacher is the pivot.
“The teacher is saddled with the responsibility to custody and disseminate set instructions, knowledge schemes, skills, models and behavioral patterns for the advancement of human existence. I thank the Inoyo Toro Foundation for initiating a giveback programme that recognizes and celebrates the Teacher, the real-time driver of the world’s civilization from time immemorial. Thank you again for keeping the initiative alive for many years now.”
He said, “the philosophy of Inoyo-Toro Foundation is .a testament affirming the teacher as the custodian of the essence that keeps the world in place even while it turns around; Inoyo-Toro Foundation is a saving grace to a world that has in many ways neglected the responsibility to fan the embers of the source of its life. The Teacher deserves celebration and reward”.
On his impart, the Special Guest of Honour and Managing Director, Development Bank of Nigeria (DBN), Mr. Tony Okpanachi decried the seeming neglect of the teaching profession and the education system in Nigeria and stated that with the highly impactful works of entities like Inoyo Toro Foundation, respect is gradually returning to the teaching profession as teachers are beginning to get their reward on earth.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Inoyo Toro Foundation Screening Committee Chairman, Dr. Enobong Joshua said, “with the 22 latest beneficiaries, the total number of Akwa Ibom teachers and principals so far rewarded with cash prizes by Inoyo Toro Foundation in the last 14 years, stands at 256 teachers and four principals. Similarly, over 3,500 teachers have been trained, over 5,040 students have been mentored and over 90 schools in Akwa Ibom State have been positively impacted through the works of the Foundation”.
In order to strengthen the value of the award, he explained that “the first, second and third prizes can only be achieved if a contestant scores at least 70%, at least 60% and at least 50% respectively, in the final results. This explains the absence of first prizes in biology and chemistry this year”.
As part of efforts to boost education in the state, Joshua said the Think Tank Education Committee, headed by the world-renowned and distinguished Professor Hilary lnyang, “produced the very detailed and well-articulated Akwa lbom Education Roadmap for the next 10 years. The Governor being passionate about the rejuvenation of the education sector had approved the document and has started implementing some aspects of the report of the Roadmap”.
He said, “the Foundation believes that teacher motivation and appreciation are critical in addressing the apathy exhibited in the teacher’s work experience and will subsequently enhance performance and service delivery in our schools. This motivation can include an annual Mandatory Professional Development (MPD) seminar that can be held during the long vacation period which the Foundation is poised to anchor if there is sponsorship”.
In addition, Joshua stated that, “the incentives recently announced for teachers by the Federal Government can also be considered by the State Government. Government can also facilitate in-service training programmes for teachers. These will update the teacher’s professional and academic competence to enable them face modern challenges”.
The Foundation commended Governor Emmanuel, “for his passion for the proper education of the Akwa Ibom child, through the provision of basic infrastructure and the recent recruitment of teachers for schools. Government’s gradual implementation of the provisions of the Education Roadmap is a strong testimony to this passion”.
The excited teachers thanked the Foundation for consistently sponsoring the award to promote excellence in teachers and changing the popular saying that teacher’s reward is in heaven, as they urged various governments in Nigeria to emulate the Inoyo Toro Foundation by lifting the welfare of teachers in the country.
Gripped with joy, the first prize winner in English Language, Kusua Senam Ukut, said, “It makes me feel exhilarated and fulfilled as a teacher. It has been a wonderful experience. This is the first time I have partaken and I believe I will not relinquish. The selection process was vigorous but very transparent. It was handled by experts, not based on recognition. I am very grateful and I want to tell Inoyo Toro Foundation to keep the flag flying. I envisage a situation where others can emulate what the Foundation is doing. If we have three of this kind of initiative, then the education status of the state would certainly be lifted from where it is right now.” He promised to judiciously use the prize money to develop himself and boost education.
On her part, Ekemini Emmanuel Isok, the 2021 Grand Mentor Award winner in Biology and mentor to the two other Biology winners, said: “I feel fulfilled that all I have been putting into my work have been rewarded and the motivation is high. It is quite inspiring because it makes me want to do more. I can put back a percentage of the prize into my work, like getting some instructional materials and helping some of my students to register for JAMB. The Foundation should keep up the good work. They have done much, not just to teachers, but to the system.”
For 14 years, Inoyo Toro Foundation with Bar Udom Inoyo as its Advisor, has remained consistent in the development of capacities, seeking to promote teaching excellence through recognition and rewards for secondary school teachers, mentorship for students and facility intervention support for public secondary schools in Akwa Ibom State.
It’s beneficiaries cut across various spheres including teachers, students, schools, libraries, laboratories, lawyers, journalists, medical workers, techies, film makers, writers, actors and actresses, entrepreneurs, youths, men and women across various Akwa Ibom communities.
Highlights of the award ceremony was the presentation of prizes to the winners and Dick Collins Efre of Okoromita Comprehensive Secondary School, Okorette in Eastern Obolo LGA emerged the 2021 Grand Mentor in English Language and carted home an excellence award and prize of N500,000; Uduak Timothy Akpan of Community Secondary School, Iko Town, Eastern Obolo LGA won the 2021 Grand Mentor Teachers’ Award in Mathematics and returned home with an excellence award plus a cash prize of N500,000.
Other winners in the Grand Mentor Awards category who smiled home with N500,000 cash prizes were Ekere Robert Mkpa of Etinan Community Comprehensive Secondary School, Etinan, for Chemistry; Ephraim Jacob Inyangudo of Comprehensive Secondary School, Ediene Abak, for Physics; and Ekemini Emmanuel Isok of Secondary School, Etoi, Uyo, for Biology.
Eno Etukudo Ese, Principal of St. Francis Secondary School, Ikot Ataku in Eket Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State won the 2021 Principal’s Award and smiled home with N500,000.
The subject category winners for English Language are Kusua Senam Ukot, 1st; Bella Bassey, 2nd position and John Effiong Udoh, 3rd position. For Mathematics, the 1st 2nd and 3rd place winners were Ekpedeme Cyril Akpan, Udeme Dickson Abraham and Cyril Iniobong Edet, respectively.
Akpan Basil Inyang of Edu Secondary School in Mkpat Enin LGA won the first-place award and prize of N250,000 in Physics and Ekaete Rebecca Akpan of Etinan Institute, Etinan carted home similar award and prize, having emerged first in Economics.
The second and third place winners in Physics, Economics, Biology and Chemistry went to Friday Sunday Akpan and Odudu Etim Udoudom; Aniekan Udo and Kevin Kevin; Aniefiok Ekanem Antia and Unymeobong Isok; as well as Uduak Sunday David and Joshua Felix Effiong, respectively.
Sponsors of the various awards include Mr. Aniekan Ukpanah, Boda Services Limited, Hensek Integrated Services Limited, Savannah Energy Plc and Bassey Ukpong Udo Foundation.