Having been shortlisted for various categories of the award, the expectation was high. They include; Mr Adeeko Olalekan, a teacher with Baptist Boys High School (Senior)Abeokuta who had been shortlisted for(Best teacher, Secondary School Category), Mr Adebiyi Abiola Temitayo, a teacher with Vasity Children Grammar School, Ijebu-Ode , shortlisted for the ( Best Teacher , Private School Category) Mr Olalekan Dawodu, the Principal, MayFlower School (Senior),Ikenne-Remo, whose school had been shortlisted for (Best public School Category) and Mr Olaniyi Ogun, a Principal of Adenrele High School (Junior), Ifo , shortlisted for (Best administrator, Secondary School category”). Also with the nominees on that breezy afternoon was Mr Femi Ayannunuga, a classroom teacher with Kobape Community High School, Kobape,whose penchant for the pen profession is quite legendary. Ayannuga is the leader of the ASUSS, Press crew (a media team comprising of vibrant teachers dedicated to showcasing the activities of their members to the outside world, especially through the social media). With his still camera hanging around his neck, Ayannuga,s mission in Abuja , as he said was “ to click on my camera lenses severally in order to capture the great moments ”. As this writer engaged them, it was quite noticeable that behind the veiled uncertainty about what might be the final verdict in Abuja was the air of confidence and enthusiasm on the faces of these “ambassadors”. According to Olaniyi Ogun , ‘’ I have done my bit, the Presidential award screening Committee, have their criteria and having shortlisted my name, I can only hope for the best”
On the part of Adebiyi, with a smile he retorted:‘’ I have no doubt in my mind that we shall come back smiling’’ while Mr Olalekan Adeeko was quite emphatic. ‘’ We shall bring honour home and this is the only way to further appreciate our teacher- friendly Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun whose passion for the development of the education sector is well known”.
Without any iota of doubt, the present administration of Prince Dapo Abiodun has demonstrated in words and deeds that the education industry would be restored to its pride of place while the teaching profession would be taken to the sublime.
His declaration of a state of emergency in the sector has further underscored his determination to take a holistic approach in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals. There has been a form of highly intensified Education Quality Assurance (EDA) to ensure that acceptable standards are attained, maintained and improved upon while capacity of the teaching workforce also featured prominently in the scheme of things by training and re-training through strategic partnership.
The berth of the Tech hub in the State also had an all encompassed positive impact on teaching and learning with beehive of activities at the kobape Tech hub center. Also, don’t sector had received a boost with the ongoing rehabilitation of primary school buildings (one per ward in each of the 236 wards); the new fresh breath of life given to the State’s tertiary Institutions, especially, MAPOLY and Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE); the recent approval of year 2015/ 2016 promotion of teachers for both Primary and Secondary Schools; the abolition of levies and restoration of running costs to schools; the re-instatement of the sacked former State NUT Chairman , Mr Dare Ilekoya and a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Education , Science and Technology, Mr Olusanjo Majekodunmi are just tips of the cheering news emerging as the State government is currently embarking on a silent reposition of the sector.
Already, arrangement had been concluded to set up Education Delivery Unit which would enhance closer monitoring of the activities in the public schools while e-learning would also be introduced through the provision of instructional materials, (tablets) to students to enable them key into the uniform curriculum in schools.
At the Eagle’s square, Abuja, the venue of the President Teachers’ and School Excellence Award, the enthusiasm of the State Ambassadors seemed to have met with the passion of Prince Dapo Abiodun as the Gateway State shone like a Northern star by carting four (4) out of the available gifts at the event.
According to Femi Ayannuga “ it was a great moment for our teachers and school administrators in Abuja as I was just clicking and clicking on my camera “ At the end of the exercise , Ogun State stood tall by clinching the coveted awards which include; *The best teacher , Private Schools Category, with star prize of a brand new Hyundai Accent (won by Adebiyi Abiola Temitayo , an economics teacher of Vasity Chidren Grammar School, Ijebu-Ode) *
The first runners up , best teacher, Public Schools category, with prize of LG Chest Freezer, 1 42 inch TV and 1 HP Laptop (won by Olalekan Adeeko , a Computer Science teacher of BBHS, Abeokuta) *The first runners up, best Public School category , with prize of Chest Freezer, and Photocopier (Won by MayFlower School (Senior), Ikenne and represented by the Principal, Mr Olalekan Dawodu .) *
The fifth runners up, best administrator, Public School category with a prize of Chestvfreezer (won by Mr Olaniyi Ogun of Adenrele High School, Ifo.) Receiving the awardees at the State Executive Chambers in Oke Mosan office of the Governor in Abeokuta, the elated Governor Abiodun described the award as quite symbolic and meaningful. Said the Governor: “
If out of 15 awards, we have won four that means there is just 11 to share between the other 35 states. That means we have done well, it is in our DNA in Ogun State to be the best in everything positive and I want to assure you that we will give you all the needed support to sustain all what you have achieved ”.
The Governor disclosed that plans are underway to have Governor’s Teachers’ School Excellence Award, adding that ‘’when our teachers are happy and well-motivated, they will be interested in teaching our children well and our aspirations of becoming a progressive nation would be accomplished’’.
Governor Abiodun at the occasion showered Mr Adebiyi Abiola Temitayo with a cash gift of N2m( Two million Naira), Mr Olalekan Adeeko got N1.5 (One million , five hundred thousand),Mr Olalekan Dawodu was given N1m.(One million naira)while Mr Olaniyi Ogun collected N500,000(Five hundred thousand naira).
“Today, you have done us proud, our heads are swollen, it is important we sustain it, and one of the ways is to establish the Governor’s Excellence award’’, added, the Governor. On her part, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Primary, Secondary and Technical Education, Mrs Ronke Soyombo said the award was an indication of better things to come for the education sector in the State. According to Soyombo , ‘’
These awards were coming at a time when Prince Dapo Abiodun had decided to restore the sector back to its pride of place” . To the awardees, it was indeed a reward for hardwork just as they promised not to rest on their oars. ‘’ This is another call for me to do more and keep playing my role as a UN, Sustainable Development Goal goalkeeper on quality education’’, said Olalekan Adeeko. It was indeed a day when enthusiasm met passion and in the words of the State Chairman, Academic Staff Union of Secondary Schools,( ASUSS), Comrade Akeem Lasisi, ‘’ The award is dedicated to a visionary Governor whose passion for the welfare of teachers had been felt , just within a short period of assumption of office and we must continue to reciprocate the gesture.’’
Onasanya is a Director of Information in Ogun State