After five failed attempts, Adeola Adefemi of Keke Senior High School, Agege, recently emerged as the first teacher from Lagos State to win the Maltina Teacher of the Year since its inception nine years ago.
Ms Adefemi, who is also the winner of the 2023 African Union Continental Teacher Prize, described the Maltina Teacher Award as “the most difficult and yet fulfilling competition” she has ever had the privilege to participate in.
Having emerged as the winner, she received a total cash prize of N6.5 million and is also entitled to an all-expense paid capacity development training in the United Kingdom, and a fully equipped computer laboratory or a six-classroom block worth N20 million for her school in her honour.
She said: “It was a mixture of apprehension, joy, and anxiety. It is the most difficult but I will say the most fulfilling competition.
“The most important strategy I would say I deployed has to be the truth. I went there to tell the truth, and I would say my truth covers the fact that I am passionate about my students.
“I almost gave up but I promised myself and my students that I would win something for them. In the application, there were so many essay questions, which was the most challenging part.”
In 2022, Ms Adefemi won the best teacher prize in Lagos State and was celebrated and rewarded by the Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu with a SUV car.
She also won the Presidential Best Teacher Prize in Nigeria and was given another SUV by the Federal Government.
Ms Adefemi, who is also a 2020 Fulbright Teaching Excellence award winner, is the founder of Girls Allowed Hub, Every Child Counts Club, and the convener of the Secure Your Future Campaign.
Speaking further, Ms Adefemi said being an educator is about changing lives, and that she is very concerned and invested in the development of students.
She said: “Moving forward, everything I have done has been within my cycle. So I’m looking to cascade this beyond my corner and that will lead to more mentorship, and training for teachers and students.
“I’m very particular about student potentials, special education, girls education, quality education. So moving forward I would love to organise more trainings, and workshops to retrain and upskill teachers.
“My focus will be getting teachers to see beyond the classroom and beyond what they stand to gain because teaching itself is not a means to an end but it’s the end itself. So I’m looking to get more teachers to think in this direction.”
At the grand finale of the 2023 Maltina Teacher of the Year held in Lagos, Azuh Chike of Ezemu Girls Grammar School, Delta State, emerged as the first runner-up, while Adam Ndi of Model Science College, Niger State, emerged as the second runner-up.
The first and second runners-up received N1.5 million and N1.25 million respectively for their efforts.
The Corporate Affairs Director, Nigerian Breweries Plc, Sade Morgan, disclosed in her remarks that the number of entries for the 2023 edition of the competition was the highest ever, with a record-breaking 1,499 entries from all 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.