Saturday, October 13, 2007
BEST TEACHER MAKES COMMUNITY PROUD
By: VANCE AZU
On Friday, October 5, 2007, in far away Tamale, in the Northern Region of Ghana, an epoch-making event culminated in the crowning of Ms. Faustina Gyeketey, a teacher at one of the obscure rural communities, Obokrom in the Central Region, as the most outstanding teacher in the country.
This solid personal achievement was recorded through selflessness, devotion to duty, commitment, dedication, innovation and above all, humility, attributes that came to play in this significant achievement in the life of the 29-year-old teacher.
An overwhelmed Nana Kusah Obo VII, the Chief of Gomoa Obokrom, flanked by a host of elders and some enthusiastic community members, told The Mirror that “the glory that we are basking in at the moment has never happened to this community since it was founded over a century ago. Teacher Faustie has made us proud and we are all engulfed in the honour that her success and achievement have brought to the community”.
According to the Gomoa Obokrom Chief, Faustina is a real model for a number of young women and girls in the community, saying she had practically demonstrated her preparedness to help mould a number of children in the community by encouraging them to work hard in school.
Nana Obo revealed that the elders of the community had agreed to honour the Gomoa Obokrom-based best teacher with the highest honour during the Akwambo Festival in January next year.
Faustina, in a chat with The Mirror, disclosed that from the day she sent entries to participate in the best teacher award competition, she knew within her that she would eventually win an award, at least in the JHS category. That, she said, came to her school and the numerous interviews she had to grant to them, including the Immediate Past Director-General of the Ghana Education Service.
According to her, on the D-day when the honours were been announced her name was not mentioned until the last minute when a policeman and some ushers came to escort her to the dais. The feeling, she said, kept mounting.
“Eventually when my name was mentioned, I nearly collapsed. I was overwhelmed because I could not believe that with just seven years of teaching experience, I did better than the first and second runners-up who have vast teaching experience,” she said.
According to the 2007 National Best Teacher, her posting to Gomoa Obokrom in 200 after her training college education at the Presbyterian Women’s Training College (PWTC) at Aburi was not a pleasant thing to her because she had been confident she would be posted to a school in Accra.
“Initially, my spirit was dampened because of what some taxi drivers at Apam Junction from whom I asked for direction to Obokrom told me. They said the ‘government was callous for sending such a young pretty girl to teach in a village’. When I heard those remarks I started crying like a baby but my mother, who was accompanying me, insisted I should accept the posting because I was too swollen-headed and that the rural experience would strengthen me in life.”
“After all that, I accepted the challenge and settled down to live the rural life. I was then just 22. I realized that the foundation of the children was weak and, therefore, with support from my colleagues, I decided to organize free extra classes for the pupils. We had the first session from 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. and later added a second session which ran from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.” she explained.
According to Faustina, “the children, their parents and the whole community embraced the idea and that novelty helped to better the lot of the pupils. The BECE results in 2001 recorded some significant improvement of 100 percent passes”.
She, however, said most of the brilliant children were unable to further their education because of their poor backgrounds. She cited the case of a boy who had aggregate 11 and had to resort to charcoal burning for livelihood.
Moved by the plight of some of these children, Faustina said she sponsored a boy and a girl to further their education at Dawurampong Secondary and the Swedru Business College, respectively.
Faustina, who teaches Religious and Moral Education and English from JHS One to Three, said her award was made possible by the favour of God and through hard work. She also made sure she used adequate teaching and learning materials in order to get the children to understand her lessons. She also gave them a lot of assignments.
Besides her professional work, Faustina is a mother to a number of children in her community. According to her, she cooks for the children in her school every Friday and buys handkerchiefs for them at the end of every month. There are others she buys school uniforms and footwear for.
She said with the help of the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA), she succeeded in getting constructed a KVIP place of convenience and a borehole which serve the community, as well as adjoining towns and villages, including parts of Agona Swedru, in times of severe water shortage.
Additionally, she distributes food rations, comprising wheat, oil and other food items, to the children, especially the malnourished ones, in the community. She has also registered 10 aged persons above 70 and a teenager girl who is a sicklier with the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS).
Faustina revealed that the plight of peasant community especially children there who hardly ate breakfast before going to school, had touched her heart to the extent that she had plans to establish a Faustina Gyeketey Foundation to support the poor and the needy in society.
Born in Koforidua on May 5, 1978 to Mary Adwoa Odoi, a businesswoman, and Mr. Bismarck Kwame Gyeketey, a car dealer. Faustina, who hails from Aperede-Akwapim in the Eastern Region, attended the Benkum Secondary School before continuing at PWTC to train as a teacher.
She is the first of two children and worship at God The Eye of The World Ministry at Agona Swedru. She is married to Mr. Clayman Acheampong Wallace of the Gomoa District Office of the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) and enjoys watching television and reading. Rice with gravy is her favourite food.
The Mirror Saturday, October 13, 2007 Page: 33