Teacher in line for top award

Go! & Express - - News - MADELEINE CHAPUT

EAST Lon­don Science Col­lege eco­nomics teacher, Solomon On­wona from Ghana, has been nom­i­nated for the pres­ti­gious Na­tional Teacher’s Award.

The an­nual teacher's award cel­e­brates the best ed­u­ca­tors in South Africa.

Nom­i­nees are re­quired to sub­mit var­i­ous forms and give a pre­sen­ta­tion. Through­out this process, rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the district and na­tional De­part­ments of Ed­u­ca­tion will ad­ju­di­cate the nom­i­nees in an ef­fort to award the most out­stand­ing teach­ers.

Nom­i­nated by the District De­part­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion, On­wona’s teach­ing prac­tices and work make him an ex­cel­lent can­di­date.

On­wona started teach­ing in South Africa 12 years ago af­ter com­plet­ing his de­gree in Ed­u­ca­tion at the Abetifi Pres­by­te­rian Col­lege of Ed­u­ca­tion (ABETICO) in Ghana and, since then, the pass rate of his stu­dents has never fallen be­low 90 %. With some ex­pe­ri­ence teach­ing in Ghana, On­wona started out in South Africa at Mbuqe Ju­nior Sec­ondary School in Mthatha.

From there On­wona taught at Sol Plaatjie Pri­mary School in the North West, Lumko High School in Ama­linda and at the East Lon­don Science Col­lege, where he finds him­self to­day.

“My fa­ther was a teacher and my mother is still a teacher in Ghana. It runs in the fam­ily and it has be­come a part of me,” On­wona said.

“When a learner is hurt, I'm hurt and when I can make a dif­fer­ence in their lives it pleases me,” he said.

De­spite teach­ing eco­nomics to Grade 10 to 12 pupils, On­wona in­sists on help­ing stu­dents through dif­fi­cult times. “It's not just about get­ting stu­dents to pass, it’s not just about school work, it's about life,” On­wona said.

“I try to ad­vise them as best as I can, es­pe­cially the chil­dren who are vul­ner­a­ble, dis­turbed or feel hope­less. My great­est ac­com­plish­ment is help­ing those chil­dren achieve.”

Greeted with re­spect and a cheer­ful smile in the school hall­ways, On­wona has made a great im­pact in many of his stu­dents’ lives.

“When I first met Mr On­wona in Grade 11 I re­mem­ber fail­ing his sur­prise test. His re­ac­tion mo­ti­vated me and shaped me into the per­son I am to­day. Mr On­wona al­ways pushed me to be bet­ter, he al­ways be­lieved in me even when I failed to be­lieve in my­self. The world needs more teach­ers like him,” said past pupil, Si­bongile Ma­pantsela, who went on to ma­tric­u­late with a dis­tinc­tion in eco­nomics.

De­spite On­wona's suc­cesses, he has faced var­i­ous chal­lenges adapt­ing and be­ing ac­cepted in South Africa, mak­ing his nom­i­na­tion for the award very mean­ing­ful.

“There are al­ways chal­lenges as a for­eigner in a dif­fer­ent coun­try. I am very hon­oured to be nom­i­nated amongst South African teach­ers and feel as though my pos­i­tive im­pact in the South African com­mu­nity has been ac­cepted and recog­nised,” On­wona said..


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