It was a “back to school” season like no other when the Tanzanian government re-opened schools after the enforced closure as a result of the COVID-19 crisis. Teachers and students were in a mix of moods about how they are going to live the new reality and compensate for lost learning time.
Despite uncertainty about the end of pandemic and re-opening of schools, the education authority in the Meru District of Arusha organized an event to recognize best performing teachers. On 4 July 2020, the district education department, in collaboration with The Foundation For Tomorrow, conducted the Teachers of Distinction awarding ceremony, aimed at recognizing teachers for tireless efforts and their outstanding role in passing on knowledge to students.
It is my strong belief that all of us have had a teacher who, in one way or another, influenced us to develop many valuable qualities and learn things that shaped us into who we are today. Acknowledging teachers’ achievements is to say thank you to the people who make us better individuals. In this regard, TFFT, back in 2015, launched its first Teacher of Distinction Award to shine the spotlight on teachers, incentivize them through recognition and some financial reward. Our goal is to motivate them further to stay in the profession and continue doing the best they can, while motivating other teachers to follow their example.
We are so proud to see one of our boundary partners, the Meru District education department, continue TFFT’s initiative of incentivizing teachers by recognizing their most outstanding teachers in schools. We feel happy and motivated to continue investing in teachers and remain grateful to our supporters for making this lasting impact a reality.
On the awarding day, eleven teachers were gifted with monetary awards and a certificate of recognition as inspirational support for their excellence in teaching. There was a lot of energy and excitement among the awardees and other participants during this unique event. The guest speaker, Honorable Jerry Muro, who is a District Commission for Meru District, highlighted the importance of appreciating teachers for their demonstrated teaching excellence. Above all, he highlighted the instrumental influence that teachers have in our lives, rewarding their milestones is an essential motivation.
Over several years, TFFT and education authorities in Meru District established a set of criteria and deliberation procedures in recognizing teachers. While there are so many ways of recognizing teachers, here are the criteria:
● Ability to stimulate critical and analytical thinking among students
● Ability to create an engaging and rewarding learning experience
● Innovations and creativity in teaching methods and curriculum development
● Commitment to helping students who need extra learning support (tutoring)
These are all together instituted and carefully followed in the process of selecting recipients for the Teacher of Distinction Award.
Mr. Silas Sawai, a social studies teacher, and one of the recipients of the teacher recognition award, said, “I have really been encouraged by the certificate and cash prize that I have got today as an inspirational support for teachers…This now presents to me a new challenge that I have to do more than what I did last year.” He further added, “Apart from the various teaching strategies that I used over the last year, I have made myself available for my pupils and have used extra time to help the struggling learners. I love my students and use this friendship to better understand them.”