By Dipo Olowookere
A teacher with Mastercare International School, Asaba, Delta State, Mr Felix Udochukwu Ariguzo, has emerged the Maltina Teacher of the Year for 2017 in the highpoint of the competition’s grand finale held in Lagos on Thursday.
For the feat, Mr Ariguzo was rewarded with N1 million in addition to N500,000 he received as Delta State champion.
He will also receive N1 million every year for five years, a training programme abroad and a block of six classrooms built at his school.
Mr Ariguzo, a Biology and Chemistry teacher, revealed that he draws inspiration for teaching from his love for service and knowledge building.
He thanked Nigerian Breweries for the gesture and enjoined other corporate organisations to follow the worthy example.
“Today, I am very happy and proud that Nigerian Breweries has shown that teachers’ rewards are both in heaven and on earth,” he enthused.
The 38 year old son of a teacher maintained that teaching is not about earning a living, but giving life a meaning and that a strong passion and emotional stability are vital in the teaching profession.
On the night, Mrs Chika Ume-Ezeoke, a Biology teacher with Our Lady of Apostle, Yaba, Lagos State, emerged the first runner-up, while Mr Samuel Emochuaogu an English teacher with Winners International Academy, Agudama-Epie, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State clinched the second runner-up position.
Each of the 27 State Champions received N500,000 while the first and second runners-up got an additional N1 million and N750,000 respectively.
While welcoming guests at the event, the Managing Director of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mr Johan Doyer, explained that in line with its philosophy of winning with Nigeria, the company resolved in 1994, to play a more active role in the development of education in Nigeria when it established the Nigerian Breweries – Felix Ohiwerei Education Trust Fund with a commencement capital of N100 million.
The fund, according to him, has impacted over 25,000 students across the country, built 31 classroom blocks and 30 libraries equipped with furniture and books in both primary and secondary schools across various communities.
He added that in 2015, the company’s intervention in education was expanded to include teachers when the Maltina Teacher of the Year initiative was launched.
The initiative he said, was hinged on the realization that teachers hardly get the recognition they deserve in spite of the pivotal role they play in determining the quality of education and the future of our country.
“Today’s grand finale gives us an opportunity to share happiness with our teachers and I hope that this initiative reminds everyone to support and encourage our teachers always,” Mr Doyer said.
He equally thanked the stakeholders in the education sector for their support especially the Federal Ministry of Education, the ministries of education in all the states across the country, the Nigerian Union of Teachers, the All Nigeria Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (ANCOPSS), the Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, amongst several others.
In her remarks, Deputy Governor of Lagos State, Mrs Idiat Oluranti Adebule, who was represented by Mr Adesina Odeyemi, a Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, described teachers as the most critical asset of the nation and thanked Nigerian Breweries for the initiative she described as a big boost to teachers and the teaching profession.
The Maltina Teacher of the Year initiative has so far produced 69 State Champions and three overall winners.
In 2015, Mrs Rose Nkemdilim Obi from the Federal Government Girls College, Onitsha, Anambra State emerged as the Maltina Teacher of the Year at the maiden edition while Mr Imoh Enoh Essien, a teacher at the Special Education Centre for Exceptional Children, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State won in 2016.
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