By Chimaobi Nwaiwu
NNEWI—THE recognition of Mrs. Rose Nkemdilim Obi, a Chemistry teacher at Federal Government Girls Collage, FGGC, Onitsha, Anambra State, by the Nigeria Breweries, NB Plc, has shown that the teachers’ reward is no longer in heaven.
Mrs Obi who was appointed by the Federal Civil Service after teaching at the FGGC for 10 years as a non-staff based on an agreement reached with the Parents/Teachers Association, PTA, in the school, was known for hard work and dedication to duty.
Before her recognition by the NB, the ever smiling Mrs. Obi, had become the toast of the students and teachers in the FGGC and the Anambra State government which had been using her as a reference point for teachers in terms of dedication to duty and sense of responsibility.
Those conversant with the Secondary Schools education system in Anambra, spoke of the derogatory manner in which “PTA teachers” are treated by their colleagues as non- salaried staff, even as such teachers were at the mercy of the PTA Chairman on seat at a particular period.
Most of the PTA teachers are engaged in the system after their compulsory National Youth Service Corp, NYSC, programme, while others were people who after many years of unemployment and frustration of not getting jobs, were bailed out through the benevolence of the school principal and the PTA board of the school who give them casual employment.
However, they are allegedly always overworked and in most cases they do not complain for fear of losing such employment This was the case of Mrs. Obi who bore her sufferings with equanimity for 10 years before her employment by the Federal Government and the limelight Nigerian Breweries Plc recognition has brought her.
Speaking with SEV during the commissioning of Staff Residence at FGGC Onitsha, donated by the Nigerian Breweries/Felix Ohiwerei in her honour as the Winner of ‘Maltina Teacher of the Year, 2015 Imitative’ of the company, Mrs. Obi said teaching runs in her blood, adding that “The time I was in the tertiary institution, I helped some of my mates who had difficulties with their studies because I have passion for teaching.
“When I graduated I looked for teaching job, but I could not get any from government and I decided to settle for the PTA sponsored/paid teachers. I stayed 10 years as PTA paid teacher, hoping to be converted, but it never came until 2013 when Federal Civil Service Commission gave me a job through the Federal Ministry of Education.”
Mrs. Obi appealed to the Federal and State Governments to improve teachers’ salaries to make teaching attractive, as in so doing the best brains will be attracted into the profession.
“We must have the best brains in teaching profession. Today I am being recognized because I worked hard, ordinarily if I wanted to see the Minister of Education I would have gone to Abuja, fill forms and wait until I see him, which may not even be possible but today the Minister has been dragged to this school by me through dint of hard work, who said that hard work doesn’t pay.
“I knew about the competition through my husband who read it in the papers and encouraged me to enter since I had won awards from the PTA and Cow Bell Milk Company. I was selected and went through the stages of the competition and became the champion at the end”.
Minister of State for Education Prof. Anthony Anwukah who was present on the occasion called on corporate organizations and multinational companies operating in Nigeria to emulate the NB Plc in the development of education in the country.
“We are happy that a corporate entity like NB is supporting the development of education and they are helping the Federal Government in motivating the teachers through Maltina Teacher of the Year Initiative competition and award to teachers and building of structures like this for the school that produced the teacher.
We are aware that NB has awarded scholarships to students and are still awarding, we thank them for their support and encouragement, we are asking other corporate entities and to emulate them. “We thank Mrs. Obi whose effort brought this project, the Teachers Residence. We urge other teachers in the country to emulate her hard work.”
The Managing Director and Chief Executive of Nigerian Breweries Mr. Nicholas Vervelde who was represented by the Corporate Affairs Adviser of the company, Mr. Kufre Ekanem said “NB in 1994 decided to take a more active role in its commitment to the development of education in Nigeria when it established the Nigerian Breweries/Felix Ohiwerei Education Trust Fund with take-off value of N100 million.
“Since that year, the fund has impacted over 20,000 students across Nigeria, and through the fund, we have built over 250 classrooms and 22 libraries in both primary and secondary Schools across 44 communities in Nigeria.
“As you may know this twin two bedroom apartment project was attracted to this school by the success of Mrs. Rose Nkemdilim Obi, when she became the winner of the maiden edition of Maltina Teacher of the Year Initiative in 2015, as part of her prize, there were many personal rewards, but the idea of a school based project was to ensure that when a teacher wins, the community where she teach also wins.
“Mrs. Obi will be entitled to N1 million per annum for the next five years,” he said. Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra State, who was represented at the ceremony by the state Commissioner for Education, Prof Kate Omenugha commended Mrs. Obi for bringing teachers to limelight.
“Each time I listen to her speak, I draw the conclusion that she really deserves the award, the state had equally included her among the 100 Anambra best achievers compendium which would soon be launched as part of the 25 years anniversary of the state.