- Too often, many of us forget about our kindergarten teachers, but I think we ought to celebrate them more.
I have always wondered what it takes to teach kindergarten.
If you think your hyperactive four or five-year-old child is a handful, multiply that 40 times or so and you will begin to appreciate exactly what a kindergarten teacher goes through every day.
It must take endless patience to handle such young and excitable children and not lose one’s mind in the process, and I believe these teachers, who are mostly ladies, will surely be in the front of the queue to heaven when the final trumpet sounds.
Ghana Teacher Prize 2019
On Saturday, I was at the Paa Joe Stadium at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi for this year’s Ghana Teacher Prize (GTP).Even though it had rained cats and dogs the previous night and the clouds still seemed heavy and ready for another outpour, the weather held up and the event proceeded smoothly, with the Vice-President in attendance as the guest of honour.
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It was lovely and refreshing to see ladies sweep the top three awards and walk away with a saloon car (second runner-up), a 4x4 pickup truck (first runner up) and a three-bedroom house plus GH¢180,000 for the champion.
Later in the evening, we gathered at the courtyard of the Sunset Hotel for dinner with the awardees where I had the honour of being the MC and where other awards were presented. It was great fun.
My kindergarten teacher
This year’s GTP and the celebration and adulation of the nation’s teachers brought back memories.
I remember with fondness my kindergarten teacher Miss Elizabeth Nyarko back at the Tarkwa Goldfiends Preparatory School.
Sadly, I have no contact with her whatsoever nor do I have any idea where she is now.
I hope she is alive and enjoying her retirement, and I would love to meet her one day.
Miss Nyarko was special. Dark and slim with a lovely smile, she was the epitome of a good nursery teacher; kind, warm-hearted, patient and fun to be with.
Of course, this was over four and half decades ago, so I do not recall the detail of life in her class, but I remember my parents were very fond of her and did like her.
I was lucky to have excellent teachers in primary school such as Teacher Aikins, Teacher Bekoe and Master Appiagyei.
In secondary school, Mrs Kwapong, Mr Flynt and Mr Afrifa left huge impressions on me.
But at the foundation of it all lay Miss Nyarko in kindergarten who nurtured my early years and set me on a path I have not regretted.
Too often, many of us forget about our kindergarten teachers, but I think we ought to celebrate them more.
Celebrating our teachers
Talk of celebrating teachers, it is unfortunate that over the years, many who enter teaching often treat it as a last resort. Our teachers do not just teach us to read and to do sums.
Bringing the world to us within the confines of our classroom walls, they also carry us into the world to explore it in ways unimaginable.
I taught Class Five for a year for my national service at Tarkwa back in 1987 before entering university and it was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
On my last visit there, I met one of my former pupils. I did not recognise him — he did, and he introduced me to his mother as his former teacher. It felt wonderful.
In many rural communities, they are a pillar of strength, writing and reading letters on behalf of the unlettered, teaching catechism among many others.
Back in the day, a parental threat to report an errant child to ‘chicha’ would melt all the little demons in that child because he or she knew that being frog-marched to school in those circumstances would surely invite chicha’s cane to grace the buttocks.
A nation that aspires to lift her people from the doldrums of deprivation to the sunlit paths of prosperity and opportunity must take her education system seriously, and teachers are particularly central to its success in terms of their welfare, professionalisation and training.
I believe the government is on the right path in these pursuits and we will surely get there.
Today, I raise a glass and toast to the gallant ladies and gentlemen of the teaching profession.
Always remember that it was through the efforts of a teacher that you are reading this article.
That must count for something.
By Rodney Nkrumah-Boateng