Celebrating the BEST teachers and leaders

Thembi Ndlovu from South Africa, executive member of ICP representing Africa, a former ACP President and former South African Principals Association President, shares her great experience of five years being part of the National Teaching Awards adjudicating team, Interviewing some of the best teachers and school leaders in the country to find the best of them all and the extra ordinary in each category.



My name is Thembi Ndlovu. I am from South Africa. I am the executive member of ICP representing Africa, a former ACP President and former South African Principals Association President.

I am sharing with you my great experience of five years being part of the National Teaching Awards adjudicating team, Interviewing some of the best teachers and school leaders in the country to find the best of them all and the extra ordinary in each category.

In South Africa, as the President of the Principals Association, one has been fortunate to be part of the adjudication for the National Teaching Awards (NTAs) for the past five years. These awards are given to the most deserving teachers and school leaders who do extra ordinary things in desperate and odd conditions offering quality education with excellent results. These teachers and school principals come from diverse communities, ranging from the poorest schools in deep rural areas to the most affluent schools. Some of them are confronted with lack of basic resources like running water, electricity and poor infrastructure. They have to improvise, be innovative and creative to have an enabling environment for teaching and learning to take place. Despite all that, they compete in the NTAs showcasing their evidence of the work they do in and out of the classroom, beyond expectations to achieve quality education and how they leave no child behind.

Recognition and appreciation of excellence is offered for different categories of the teaching profession. These include excellence in teaching: Grade R (Elementary level), Primary School, Secondary School, Maths. Physical Science, Technology, Primary School Leadership, Secondary School Leadership, Life Time Achievement, National Best Teacher and the category called Kadar Asmal Award which is named after a former and late Minister of Education.

Nominations of such outstanding teachers starts from school levels to districts, to provinces and final phase of adjudication is at national level. Further to that, the best teachers are offered the opportunities to compete against the best in the world. These teachers are celebrated in formal functions hosted by National Minister of Education. Their awards range from brand new cars, bursaries, gadgets, trophies, certificates and money.

Allow me to say there are GREAT AND EXTRA-ORDINARY TEACHERS AND SCHOOL PRINCIPALS out there!!! They have the potential to influence and mould lives. They are the source of hope in desperate situations. They see the light where there is darkness, nurturing the dreams of every child passing through their hands.

Despite all the challenges the world face today, including the effect of the global pandemic which significantly destabilised education, teachers are optimistic ensuring that teaching and learning continues. Different methods of teaching and learning have been introduced in so many countries. Teachers had to adapt and learn new ways of engaging with their learners. The new normal kicked in. In poor countries physical classroom and face-to-face learning was the only way to continue. This has been the situation in most countries in Africa. Despite all these desperate situations, teachers have proved that no challenge is insurmountable. It has been highly applauded to realise that a number of countries in Africa never stopped identifying and awarding service excellence in teachers, appreciating the sterling job they do, even at this time of the pandemic. These teacher awards are done annually to celebrate the beacons of hope in our communities.

In GHANA Best Teacher Award is done annually at District, Regional and National Administrative levels. Thorough assessments are carried out by special body in various levels considering professional competence, community service and other aspects of individual prospective awardees. A teacher qualifies to take part in the awards after successfully teaching for five years. At National level the award for the first position of best teacher is a four bedroom accommodation, second position gets a pick-up and the third position gets a saloon car. At Regional and District levels awards range from different appliances to smaller items.

In NIGERIA Best Teachers are awarded by government annually on the World Teachers Day, the 5th of October. Prizes range from cars, electronics, trophies and money. The awardees undergo written and oral interviews by educational consultant, to NBL and finally by the jury. The National awards are conducted by the Federal Ministry of education. These awards are also done by private companies, institutions and communities to appreciate best teachers. For example, the Nigerian Breweries PLC and ANCOPSS President is one of the members of the jury. Prizes won range from classroom block, laboratories, libraries depending on the choice of the awardee, Million Dollars, a trip abroad to any university of his/her choice for 6 months and free Martina until the next round.

These foot soldiers have become the source of hope, inspiring and motivating their students to rise against all odds and strive for excellence. They lead by example, educating their students to be responsible citizens and break the cycle of poverty in their families whilst they are still at school. These outstanding teachers and school leaders demonstrate adaptability and resilience in these ever-changing times.

Teaching, the noble profession that need not be taken lightly! Teachers are at the heart of social transformation. The awarding of best teachers in most countries, aim to celebrate and appreciate teachers who are doing their level best to achieve the extra-ordinary out of the ordinary and sometimes hopeless circumstances. These extra-ordinary teachers in our countries are a beacon of hope, a source of inspiration and motivation for so many who are in similar circumstances. Sharing their expertise and best practices have encouraged other teachers to strive for excellence despite dire situations.


Where can we be without Teachers? Every Doctor, Lawyer, Economist, Astronomer, Engineer, Scientist, CEO in a big Company, Entrepreneur, you name it….. Need to appreciate and Love our Great teachers, THEY ARE WHERE THEY ARE BECAUSE OF TEACHER.

BY Thembi Ndlovu



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