Ahead of this year’s edition of the Presidential ‘Best Teacher’ Award, Pujehun District has selected its representative candidates.
Abraham Vandi Sakpa of the Roman Catholic Primary School in Geoma Jargo Village, Sowa Chiefdom, and Thomas Vandi Sannoh from the Saint Stephen Secondary School in Gobaru were named at the end of a three-day meeting of the district selection committee. They represent the Pre-primary/primary and secondary/Tech Voc categories, respectively.
This year’s Presidential ‘Best Teacher’ Award ceremony, which is slated for October 5, coinciding with World Teachers Day, will be the second edition of the national competition designed to promote quality teaching and at the same time recognize hard working teachers. The first edition was launched by President Julius Maada Bio last year. His administration say the award is part of efforts to motivate teachers for better service delivery, in the face of complaints over falling standard of education. The national award ceremony will be hosted at the Bintumani International Conference Center in Freetown.
Candidates for the award are selected at district level. Schools across each district send in nominees to an independent district committee, which select the best candidates from a shortlist.
Abraham and Thomas were selected from among a shortlist of 26 candidates.
The committee comprises representatives from the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School, Civil Society, the Anti-Corruption Commission, Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, and Local Council, among others. The Teaching Service Commission (TSC), which hosts the event, usually performs an observatory role in the selection process at the district level, as well as technical assistance.
Lansana Rogers, Deputy Director of TSC in Pujehun, told ManoRep
orters that the committee members were carefully selected to represent some of the most “credible, responsible and reliable” people within the district.
The criteria set out by the TSC are that candidates must be professional teachers, who have served the teaching profession for a minimum of five years with or without their names on the government payroll. They should have attended training on Code of Conducts for Teachers, professional standards for teachers and serve in leadership positions in their schools. Among others, they should also have good working relationship with school authorities and learners.
According to Lansana, the national award ceremony has already contributed “immensely” in the area of commitment of teachers, leading to improved learning out comes over the past one year.
Civil society has been among leading voices bemoaning poor performance of Pujehun in public exams. One of these voices, Kakpama Lansana Jaward Gogoyama of Education for All Coalition, which monitors service delivery in the education sector, is pleased with both the nomination and selection processes. But he suggested that for subsequent editions, the government should consider increasing the number of awardees up to four.
The initiative is a welcoming one for teachers, many of whom see it as timely, given the entrenched feeling of disgruntlement among teachers due to lack of motivation in the field.
Mohamed Lahai, Principal of the Government Secondary in Sahn Malen Chiefdom, said the prospect of attaining quality education is guaranteed if the award is maintained. Jebbeh Zocker, a female teacher of the Ahmadiyya Secondary School in Fairo in Sorogbeima Chiefdom, however, would want to see more concern from government towards the welfare of female teachers, noting that they are more vulnerable than their male counterparts.