EL teacher up for pres­ti­gious global award

Varkey Foun­da­tion ap­proaches Ghana­ian-born ed­u­ca­tor to ap­ply

Go! & Express - - News - MADELEINE CHAPUT

AFTER com­ing first in the Ex­cel­lence in Sec­ondary School Teach­ing cat­e­gory for the Na­tional Teach­ers’ Award (NTA), East Lon­don Science Col­lege eco­nomics teacher Solomon On­wona has been asked to ap­ply for the Varkey Foun­da­tion's 2018 Global Teacher Prize.

On­wana, who will be rep­re­sent­ing the district in the fi­nal rounds of the NTA in Novem­ber, was ap­proached by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Varkey Foun­da­tion, en­cour­ag­ing him to ap­ply for the in­ter­na­tional award.

On­wona was fea­tured in the GO! re­cently (Teacher in line for top award, Au­gust 24) as one of the first for­eign na­tional teach­ers to be up for the NTA.

Now in its fourth year, the $1-mil­lion (R13.5-mil­lion) in­ter­na­tional award is the largest prize of its kind and is set up to recog­nise one ex­cep­tional teacher who has made an in­valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to the pro­fes­sion, as well as to em­pha­sise the im­por­tant role played by ed­u­ca­tors in so­ci­ety.

“I am in the process of fill­ing out the forms and I am just so ex­cited to be a part of some­thing of this mag­ni­tude. It means ev­ery­thing to me, I feel as if I'm ful­fill­ing the dream of my late fa­ther,” said the en­thu­si­as­tic Ghana­ian-born teacher.

On­wona has been teach­ing for more than 12 years, both in his home coun­try Ghana and in South Africa. For him teach­ing is more than just a means to make a liv­ing, it is a pas­sion, a call­ing.

Apart from en­sur­ing an out­stand­ing set of re­sults is achieved by his eco­nomics stu­dents, On­wona ded­i­cates his time and ef­forts to help­ing, mo­ti­vat­ing and en­cour­ag­ing his stu­dents in all facets of life, mak­ing him an ex­cel­lent can­di­date for the Global Teacher prize.

As a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, the Varkey Foun­da­tion strives to im­prove the stan­dards of ed­u­ca­tion for un­der­priv­i­leged chil­dren through­out the world by mo­ti­vat­ing and sup­port­ing teach­ers, as well as ac­knowl­edg­ing in­no­va­tion and ex­cel­lence in the pro­fes­sion.

“Our mis­sion is that ev­ery child should have a good teacher. We do this through build­ing teacher ca­pac­ity, ad­vo­cacy cam­paigns to pro­mote ex­cel­lence in teach­ing prac­tice at the high­est lev­els of pol­icy mak­ing and pro­vid­ing grants to part­ner or­gan­i­sa­tions that of­fer in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions in sup­port of our mis­sion,” Varkey Foun­da­tion mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive Pr­erana Srun­garam said.

As part of the Varkey’s Global Teach­ers Prize, nom­i­nated teach­ers or those who ap­ply, can po­ten­tially be short listed as the top-50 can­di­dates later in the year have their in­spi­ra­tional sto­ries pub­li­cised, help­ing to raise the bar of re­spect for the pro­fes­sion.

“Go­ing in­ter­na­tional is a ful­fil­ment of the words of my Grade 5 teacher, who used to call me “my best teacher” due to the way I used to an­swer ques­tions and present top­ics in class. My teacher al­ways told me I'd make a dif­fer­ence in the world and now that time has come,” On­wona said.

“If I get to the top 50, I'll be re­ally happy and win­ning the award would give me the chance to go the ex­tra mile in or­der to make even more of a dif­fer­ence in the lives of th­ese fu­ture lead­ers.”

IN­SPI­RA­TIONAL FORCE: East Lon­don Science Col­lege teacher Solomon On­wona was ap­proached by rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Varkey Foun­da­tion, en­cour­ag­ing him to ap­ply for their in­ter­na­tional award

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