By Eric M. Kuju
Recall that Alaku Ayiwulu, a teacher with Federal Government College, Jos, Plateau State, was declared winner of the 2022 Maltina Teacher of the Year Award.
According to the organizer, for emerging the winner of the 8th edition of the award, Mr. Ayiwulu will receive a total cash prize of N6.5 million from the Nigerian Breweries- Felix Ohiwerei Trust Fund.
While he would receive N1.5 million immediately, the organizer added that he would receive N1 million annually for the next five years.
Other perquisites include the privilege to participate in an all-expense paid capacity development training abroad and a fully equipped computer laboratory or six-classroom block worth N20 million will be built for his school in his honor.
In a brief interview with Eggonnews shortly after the news broke out, Mr. Alaku Ayiwulu gave an insight as to why and how he emerged as the winner of the priced award and what the award means to him.
Here is how it went:
Please introduce yourself
My name is Alaku Ayiwulu. I am a teacher with Federal Government College Jos. I am from Nasarawa State but I teach in Jos. I teach Basic Science and Physics.
I have been working for the past eight years.
I have a BSc and MSc in Physics Education and I was part of the Full Bright Teaching Excellence Achievement (TEA) Program this year from January to March in Florida, USA.
How did the journey to becoming the 2022 Maltina Teacher of the Year begin?
It just began with a goal to apply for it. I had a goal to apply early and submit all the requirements before the deadline. After like a month, I got a mail that I had passed the first stage and they said they will get back to me to inform me if I had passed the second phase. Then I got a call some weeks ago that I made it to the top 10 and I was the State Champion and I needed to come to Lagos for an interview to contend for the first position.
Do you have an idea the number of teachers you started this journey with? How many of you applied?
I think there were over a thousand applications.
What were they looking out for? What were some of the things that qualified one to be the best teacher?
I cannot say because your application is being screened by university professors. They do it in two levels. They also pass it through experts. They check for plagiarism. They also check for how as a teacher, you can handle conflict and impart knowledge through the teaching methodologies you use and whether or not you were able to teach during the pandemic. You know, a lot of us taught online during the pandemic. They also checked how you handled discipline, how you handle your class and whether you are developing yourself or whether you are a teacher that sticks to past methods.
What do you think stood you out among the over a thousand teachers that applied? By this I am trying to get a picture of what was contained in your application.
I cannot say exactly what stood me out but I know that my trip as a Full Bright TEA person where we did six weeks training in the US, that contributed to the new perspectives from which I looked at things as a teacher. I think there was also somebody who was second runner-up in 2019 who was also a Full Bright TEA Alumni.
I can’t really say what stood me out but I know I had a change in perspective due to my experience over the years. And I just tried my best to be more student-centered in my teaching and try to be down to earth in what I do, to be able to relate with the students and help them view my subject as interesting. Because there is a general notion that Physics is hard, but I try my best to just bring it down to earth and see that it is interesting and attractive to these students so that they will be willing to learn and grow to contribute positively to the community.
You asked what made me stand out. I actually don’t know but I can say that the grace of God was there.
This is like a reward and you know it is a common saying that the teacher’s reward is in heaven. Here you are getting some of that reward here on earth. What can you say to your colleagues, other teachers like you, especially those that are working and don’t seem to be getting the reward?
All I will say is that you should just keep on working and keep on doing what you are doing. Keep fighting the good fight and God will surely open up doors for you.
There are also a lot of opportunities that we can try our hands on. There are many opportunities people see and just ignore, thinking it will not amount to anything or it is not legit. But believe me, there are a lot of them out there that are really legitimate. So, people should try their luck when they see opportunities to do so rather than being pessimistic towards it.
And I believe with your hard work, you will never go unrecognized. If it is not seen by man here, it will be seen by the students who appreciate you and it will be seen by God.
What next now for Ayiwulu Alaku?
I will keep doing what I do and keep looking for ways to improve students’ learning and improve as a teacher. I will attend teacher trainings and enlighten teachers to help students become better versions of themselves. I look forward to a bright future.