By Augustine Sankoh
The winners of the Presidential National Best Teachers’ Award (PNBTA) Mrs. Adama Soko Bangura KDEC Primary School, Kambia 1 and Mr. Mohamed Bassie Kamara Birch Memorial Senior Secondary School, Makeni were given the sum of NLE 40,000 plus land each.
“I feel so proud and excited to be a winner of the Presidential National Best Teacher Awards and to be named the Best Primary school teacher of the Kambia district for 2023. It is a motivating factor for me to do more in my work as a teacher,” According to Madam Bangura, 18yrs of service.
“I feel honored to be a winner of this year’s Presidential National Best Teacher Awards. This shows that the classroom is a place to be. Teaching is a career and not just a dumping ground. I know this will motivate other teachers to do their best,” according to Mr. Kamara, 11yrs of service.
This years’ PNBTA was observed on the 5th October 2023 which is the World Teachers’ Day and this year’s theme is “The teachers we need for the education we want.”
This year’s PNBTA saw 1037 nominations nationwide and this is the highest ever in the history of the competition, 320 shortlisted with 20 from each district (10 for pre-primary and primary and 10 for Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary). Thirty-two district winners emerged and they competed at regional level to get the ten regional winners with two from each region. The two national winners emerged from the ten regional winners.
“As we gather to celebrate the Presidential Best Teachers Awards alongside World Teachers’ Day 2023, we come together not just to express gratitude and appreciation, but to recognize the profound impact that teachers have on our lives and the future of our great nation. Education as we all know is the cornerstone of progress and transformation. It empowers individuals, shapes society and guides us towards a brighter future,” according to the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Mr. Conrad Sackey.
At the State Opening of Parliament in May, 2018, His Excellency the President Brigadier (Rtd.) Dr. Julius Maada Bio stated that teachers are ‘our greatest asset but have been least recognized and least awarded which was demotivating’. He also noted that for a successful implementation of the Flagship programme, the Free Quality Education, teachers’ morale and productivity must be raised. He then pronounced a Presidential Initiative for Teachers among which was The PRESIDENTIAL NATIONAL BEST TEACHER Awards Scheme for the recognition and appreciation of most innovative, ingenious and dedicated teachers at national and district levels.
Giving the keynote address and unveiling the grand winner of behalf of President Julius Maada Bio, the Sierra Leone’s Chief Minister Dr. Moinina David Sengeh said, “Truly incredibly that the first national event in which I represented H.E President Bio as Chief Minister was the Presidential National Best Teacher Awards 2023 ceremony. The two National Winners each received NLe 45,000 and a piece of Land! On behalf of President Bio and the Government of Sierra Leone, I also guaranteed the teachers that we will honor our commitment to increase their salaries by 15% in 2024 in addition to many other advances we have in store for them as part of our Manifesto commitments as this SLPP Government.”
Dr. Abdu Muwonge the World Bank’s Country Manager for Sierra Leone commends the government of Sierra Leone for taking their time organized such an award ceremony, and also commended the government for its unweaving commitment to education, adding that the prioritizing of education is a testament of the government commitment to a brighter future.
“The objectives of the PNBTA are to recognize the value of teachers in the overall human and economic development of Sierra Leone, and to promote excellence among teachers by rewarding the most innovative, creative and dedicated teachers, at district, regional and national levels,” the Secretary of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) Mr. Sorie Turay.