A 42-year old Science and ICT tutor of the T I Ahamadiya Senior High School in Kumasi, Sadique Boateng, has been crowned the 2008 National Best Teacher.
He took home a cheque of GH¢60,000 to be used to construct a house at a place of his choice and a computer and its accessories, among others.
Magdalene Mensah, 48, and a French Tutor of the Opoku Oware School, also in Kumasi and Alice Djifa Gligui Denueme, a Home Economics Tutor of Awudome Senior High School, were also adjudged the First and Second runners up respectively. The two took home a Nissan Pick up and a saloon car respectively.
Other teachers from all levels of education were also presented with prizes ranging from double-door refrigerators, TV sets, ghetto blasters, motor bikes, among others.
Speaking at the ceremony in Sunyani Tuesday, President John Agyekum Kufuor underscored the important roles teachers play in the socio-economic development of the country.
According to President Kufuor, teachers are the "agent of positive change in moulding and nurturing the youth to be the driving force of the nation's development and progress.'
In this direction, President Kufuor said his government, since 2001, has shown clear commitment in improving the lives of the nation"s hardworking teachers and teacher training institutions, all in an attempt to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in the country.
He stated that through the GETFUND and other development partners, 'government has committed a lot of resources into infrastructural development not only in the process of producing teachers of the requisite professional knowhow but also to motivate existing teaching and non-teaching staff to deliver the expected service required of them.'
He said over 130 2,3 and 4-units teachers accommodation have been constructed nationwide in the last two years and will pursue this course to increase the pace across the country to enhance the status of teachers in the society.
President Kufuor hinted that the much talked about single spine structure of payment will see full implementation early next year, saying 'our teaching and non-teaching staff will be paid fair wages for the work they do and disparities in the old salary structure will be addressed.'
He urged teachers and workers in education to observe the annual Teachers Day with 'renewed commitment to the realisation of the sublime objectives of [their] profession, as the nation acknowledges [their] indispensable role in the development of the country.'
President Kufuor however took a swipe at the bad nuts who throw the dignity of the teaching profession into disrepute. He noted that vices such as drunkenness and absenteeism tarnish the image of the profession.
The Minister of Education Science and Sports, Dominic Fobi, assured Ghanaian teachers of government's unflinching support, commitment and dedication to their welfare.
'We remain, as always, cognisant of the fact that the role of the teacher in nation building, process and development is indeed pivotal and indispensable,' Prof Fobi emphasised.
He further observed that the New Educational Reforms will remain a mirage if teachers' immense contributions are not acknowledged and rewarded.
Prof Fobi also called on all teachers to rise up to the occasion by working even harder to meet the challenges of the current global times, especially as the value and quantum of prizes and the categories of award winners have been increased significantly.
The National President of the Ghana National Association of Teachers, Joseph Kwaku Adjei, regretted that even though teachers perform the core function in the teaching and learning process, 'they are, in many instance, not accorded the required attention by governments, politicians and policy-makers and even the communities they serve.'
He therefore called for a 'rethinking of teachers' position in society,' adding: 'Any group of people who care about their future should give those men and women the credit, the support, the moral and material recognition they deserve for their challenging tasks in the classroom.'
Mr. Adjei threw a challenge to the various presidential hopefuls to come clearly about their visions for the Ghanaian teacher.
Present at the ceremony were teachers, students, chiefs, Members of Parliament, members of the diplomatic corps, Ministers of State, and people from all walks of life.