Abigael Ibikunle of Edugist had an interview session with Ms. Omodamwen, the recent awardee of the Teacher of the Year ’19. The award was sponsored by the Friday Okonofua Foundation, in collaboration with the Edo State Ministry of Education. She shares her experiences, achievements and efforts with Edugist.
Read the interview excerpt below:
Abigael Ibikunle of Edugist: Please share with us a little about your background
Omodamwen Ehizogie: My name is Omodamwen Ehizogie Colette. I have an NCE in Economics and Social Studies from College of Education Ekiadolor-Benin, a B.Sc(Ed) in Educational Management from the prestigious University of Benin and recently just concluded my Masters in Educational Management from the same University of Benin. I am a blogger and writer. My blog deals mainly on education in Edo State. I fell in love with this noble profession through my mom who is also a Primary school teacher, but she’s gradually heading towards her retirement. On Thursday, 12th September, 2019, I was awarded Teacher of the Year by Friday Okonofua Foundation in collaboration with Edo State Ministry of Education.
AI: How long have you been in the teaching profession?
OE: I have been in this profession for 13 years. Since 2006 and there’s never been regrets.
AI: What are the challenges peculiar to this profession that you have had to overcome with time?
OE: Challenges peculiar to the profession I have had to overcome; First is how the profession is perceived by members of the public and teachers alike. Prior to now, teachers had little or no recognition in public. They were seen as poor because of their pitiable remuneration that can hardly give them a good dress sense. Teachers are sometimes seen as people who are low and can’t excel.
I wrote my school anthem, anchored EdoBest one-year anniversary program organized by EdoBest Digital Teachers Forum, of which I am an administrative member and immediate past editor of the forum, amongst others.
Even in higher institutions, quite a number of persons look down on education students. And this is because entry qualification into Colleges/Faculties of Education are very minimal compared to others. They see student teachers as those who couldn’t meet up with cut off marks in other departments, and hence have no better option. Most people see the profession as such a cheap and easy profession which makes it looked down on. This I have had to overcome as a digital teacher because I have learnt to excel and make that difference. Though the remuneration is poor, with proper planning, it is useful to an extent. You do not need millions to look good as a teacher. I have decided to go beyond what others say or how they feel about the profession, by allowing my love for the profession be my driving force.
Another challenge was getting to do the same thing over and over again. I believe most teachers find themselves here too. Thank God for EdoBest pedagogy that came to modify and spice the system here in Edo. Also, my love for writing and blogging about everything education has helped a great deal.
Another issue is the fact that everybody and anybody is allowed in. Whether you studied Education or not, if you can’t secure employment in other sector, you jump into teaching to make ends meet even when you know you do not have the passion for it. This is a huge challenge we are yet to overcome especially in some mushroom private schools.
AI: Have you ever been nominated or recognized at the state level for your efforts before now?
OE: Yes! In fact, I represented Edo State at the 5th NEDIS conference in Lagos last July. I have been on different stakeholder’s meetings with the government, I was at the last stakeholders workshop on reforming Colleges of Education in Edo State, which held at Edo State Government House in August. I was among the delegates that received high powered delegation from Rwandan Federal Ministry of Education, when they came to understudy EdoBest. Also, when the Minister of Education from Serria Leone visited for same purpose, I was at the interactive session as well.
AI: How does it feel to be recognized at the state level?
OE: In as much as it feels really good, it is a motivator. It is actually a driving force because when you are already at the limelight, you will not want to be found behind. And this pushes me as an individual to do more of what I love doing.
AI: What effort(s) did you put into your work to get to this feat?
OE: A lot of sleepless nights. I get to a point, I see that point isn’t just enough then I think of what next to do. I keep thinking of how I can be a better teacher, different from others. I don’t just want to be that “regular teacher”, I think of things I can introduce to take my colleagues and pupils up “there”. This prompted me to start my blog where I showcase happenings in Edo Basic Education Subsector. I run various teachers’ platforms where I provide professional assistance to my fellow teachers. I am proud to say that I mentored and projected a pupil who was awarded scholarship to university level. I wrote my school anthem, anchored EdoBest one-year anniversary program organized by EdoBest Digital Teachers Forum, of which I am an administrative member and immediate past editor of the forum, amongst others.
AI: Can this award be won as many times as possible? Do you plan to double your effort to perhaps get to the national level?
OE: Of course, it can. Provided I double my efforts to merit it because I wouldn’t expect to be awarded again based on what I’ve done so far. Rather, I need to put on my thinking cap and think of greater things which I would do out of love and not because I need to be at the limelight. Hopefully, I pray I get a national recognition someday.
AI: What suggestions would you give to other teachers aspiring for such award?
OE: Don’t force it. Don’t push yourself too hard. Do what you do out of love and not because you want to be recognized. Remember good thing sells itself, when you do your job with love, that love will definitely get to you sooner than imagined and the recognition follows.