Good Teachers: Our Hope for a Great Tomorrow
Esther Niamah dressing a student for a show
The intensity of their discussion was noticeable. The care and love combined with the commitment and dedication was palpable.
Grace Nyarko, an eight-year-old ninth grader at Gomoa Nkoranza Basic School, was seriously engaged or in a coaching “class” with her teacher, Samuel Forson.
He tried to calm his nerves. “You can do it,” he whispered to her and repeated a few lines to her.
Grace is taking part in the Akan “Awensem” recital at the Central Regional Reading Festival in Cape Coast and this engagement was her teacher’s last minute advice.
The competition promised to be fierce by all indications and Mr. Forson was determined to secure first place for his student and contestant, Grace.
Mr Forson said he would leave nothing to chance.
Mr. Forson is a teacher at Gomoa Nkoranza Basic School and responsible for preparing students for the Reading Festival organized by the Ghana Education Service with the support of USAID-Learning.
The festival and competition aimed to inculcate reading habits and skills in students and help them better understand their culture and traditions through drama and poetry.
Mr. Forson chose Grace to compete when among many students in his school, she was able to learn a text given to her in one day and recite it gracefully.
“I immediately knew there was a lot of potential to tap into, so I started coaching her,” he said.
Grace was set to compete in her circuit’s lower primary competition.
She won the “Awensem”, the recital category of Akan poetry.
She was then prepared for the district level in Gomoa West and she won and went on to win at the zonal level.
Now regionally, Mr. Forson was still determined to make sure Grace repeated her winning ways.
Many other teachers walked around the site, Aggrey Memorial Senior High School in Cape Coast, with their students who were also mostly candidates following close behind.
A teacher, Dorothy Mensah from Mensah Sarbah School in Cape Coast, looked distraught. Her student and competitor had just developed a temperature and she was taking him to the infirmary for first aid.
Another teacher, Esther Niamah of Rev Wilson B Methodist Basic in Saltpond, hastily dressed her students for the contest.
The teachers seemed their all. They were their guide, trainers, nurses, stylists, cheerleaders; everything.
In basic public schools across the country, these dedicated teachers are working to bring out the best in the next generation of Ghanaians, but they are usually not on the appreciation list.
Elementary school teachers across the country aren’t the subject of the usual news stories, except when they caned a child too much or sexually abused a toddler.
They are immediately followed by all forms of media and probably rejected.
The immense role that teachers continue to play in the nooks and crannies of our homeland and in the development of children cannot be overemphasized.
Mr Forson said he was happy to teach in a small community where he felt he was sure to have the most impact.
“My goal is to make as many students as possible understand that with determination, it is possible to reach the desired heights. Many of our rural public schools lack the environment and facilities for effective teaching and learning, but many of us teachers are determined to push our students to the top. Sometimes parents don’t really appreciate the importance of education and it becomes our duty to guide students on the school ladder,” he noted.
He added: “We understand that our students are no less intelligent and believe that when motivated they can compete anywhere.”
Mr Forson said a platform such as the Reading Festival was important because it gave students exposure to boost their confidence.
Speaker after speaker commended the teachers for their efforts in nurturing the children and encouraged them to keep pushing to get the best out of them.
Many teachers serve as important role models for the little ones in the communities.
Like Mr. Forson, Dorothy and Esther, they joyfully work to make great people out of the many young people whose lives they are privileged to impact.
They deserve so much in rewards; so much, but it’s not.
If teachers are properly incentivized and motivated, the impact of their work on the development and well-being of the country and its people can be positively explosive.
The National Chairman of the Ghana National Association of Teachers (GNAT), Reverend Isaac Owusu, said in an interview that there are committed teachers who are not recognised.
“In very rural communities where you don’t find a clinic or a police station, you will find a school with teachers,” he said.
He said it was important for the National Teachers Council to reintroduce the teacher award at district and regional levels so that many more teachers are rewarded.
He praised teachers across the country for their hard work and assured that GNAT will continue to work with education officials for better conditions for teachers.
What perhaps sustains their momentum as teachers are the successes of the students they mentor.
Grace was one such success. She took flight during the contest and was judged first in her class.
She also gave a recital for the opening ceremony.
After all, Mr Forson, with a huge smile and a warm sense of modest accomplishment, said: ‘It wasn’t a wasted effort after all.’
If you were able to read this piece, thank a teacher.