Teacher in line for top award

EAST London Science College economics teacher, Solomon Onwona from Ghana, has been nominated for the prestigious National Teacher’s Award.

SOLOMON ONWONA. Picture: MADELEINE CHAPUT

The annual teacher’s award celebrates the best educators in South Africa.

Nominees are required to submit various forms and give a presentation. Throughout this process, representatives from the district and national Departments of Education will adjudicate the nominees in an effort to award the most outstanding teachers.

Nominated by the District Department of Education, Onwona’s teaching practices and work make him an excellent candidate.

Onwona started teaching in South Africa 12 years ago after completing his degree in Education at the Abetifi Presbyterian College of Education (ABETICO) in Ghana and, since then, the pass rate of his students has never fallen below 90 %. With some experience teaching in Ghana, Onwona started out in South Africa at Mbuqe Junior Secondary School in Mthatha.

From there Onwona taught at Sol Plaatjie Primary School in the North West, Lumko High School in Amalinda and at the East London Science College, where he finds himself today.

“My father was a teacher and my mother is still a teacher in Ghana. It runs in the family and it has become a part of me,” Onwona said.

“When a learner is hurt, I’m hurt and when I can make a difference in their lives it pleases me,” he said.

Despite teaching economics to Grade 10 to 12 pupils, Onwona insists on helping students through difficult times. “It’s not just about getting students to pass, it’s not just about school work, it’s about life,” Onwona said.

“I try to advise them as best as I can, especially the children who are vulnerable, disturbed or feel hopeless. My greatest accomplishment is helping those children achieve.”

Pupils attend personal development course

Greeted with respect and a cheerful smile in the school hallways, Onwona has made a great impact in many of his students’ lives.

“When I first met Mr Onwona in Grade 11 I remember failing his surprise test. His reaction motivated me and shaped me into the person I am today. Mr Onwona always pushed me to be better, he always believed in me even when I failed to believe in myself. The world needs more teachers like him,” said past pupil, Sibongile Mapantsela, who went on to matriculate with a distinction in economics.

Despite Onwona’s successes, he has faced various challenges adapting and being accepted in South Africa, making his nomination for the award very meaningful.

“There are always challenges as a foreigner in a different country. I am very honoured to be nominated amongst South African teachers and feel as though my positive impact in the South African community has been accepted and recognised,” Onwona said.

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