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Ugandan Nun, Kenyan Catholic among Winners of Inaugural AU Continental Teacher Prize

Top three African teachers, from left Ugandan Sr.Gladyce Kachope, Kenyan Eric Ademba, and Ghanaian Augusta Lartey-Young at the inaugural Continental Teacher Prize in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on October 23, 2019

The African Union (AU) Continental Teacher Prize launched this year “as a means for demonstrating respect for teachers and the teaching profession, by encouraging and celebrating the committed teachers in Africa” has been won by three teachers from Ghana, Kenya, and Uganda, among them, a Catholic nun. 

Sr. Gladyce Kachope who heads Immaculate Heart Girls’ School in Uganda and Mr. Eric Ademba, a teacher of chemistry and mathematics at Kenya’s Asumbi Girls’ High School emerged winners of the recently launched continental Award alongside Ghanaian Augusta Lartey-Young, a member of the Methodist church.

In a statement by the AU, the Award “raises the status of teaching, facilitates sharing of best practices in teacher excellence, and inspires the best possible candidates to join the teaching profession.” The Prize also serves as “a catalyst for similar programmes at regional and national levels,” the AU statement reads.

ACI Africa caught up with the three winners to share their sentiments after receiving the Award at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on October 23.  

In an exclusive interview Tuesday, October 29, the three have expressed their excitement for winning the prize and taken the achievement as a source of inspiration in their service as teachers.

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“They have not only recognized me as headteacher but they have also recognized the whole school,” Sr. Kachope told ACI Africa Tuesday, October 29 in reference to those behind the Award and Immaculate Heart Girls’ School where she is the headteacher.

“We still have a lot to do because now the eyes are on our school, we must work harder to ensure that we show the public that what was awarded was worth it,” Sr. Kachope added.

The nun who belongs to the congregation of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mbarara, Uganda also explained why she has a passion for the teaching profession. 

“I feel I should teach so that I can touch very many hearts of the youth,” Sr. Kachope told ACI Africa and added, “As a nun I don’t have my own biological children so when I’m teaching, I feel that the children I am teaching are my own and I teach them with a lot of love.” 

The Ugandan nun also advised fellow teachers to “teach with interest, commitment and dedication because even if we are not given money, when these children grow up and they become (respectable) people, that is our biggest contribution.”

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Another winner of the Award, Kenyan-born Ademba expressed satisfaction for winning the continental Prize saying, “I feel honored and appreciated.”

“I’m still doing my job, I believe I’m still on the way, I haven’t reached there,” Mr. Ademba who teaches at Asumbi Girls’ High School established by the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of St. Joseph, popularly known in Kenya as Asumbi Sisters told ACI Africa, hinting at his ambition to go beyond the continental Award as “to become a world class teacher.”

Ademba's win comes after Kenyan-born Franciscan Brother Peter Tabichi won the World Best Teacher Prize and also received recognition as the 2019 United Nations (UN) in Kenya Person of the Year.

Ademba underlined his role in empowering girls through education saying, “educating girls is to empower them in terms of knowledge and to make them feel as part of the society. It is important to empower them (girls), that is what I’m doing." 

He added in reference to girls, "Treat them equally and empower them the same way you empower the boys so that the society becomes complete.”

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 On her part, Ghanaian Augusta Lartey-Young who teaches English at Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School described her win a "validation of my hard work.” 

“I feel highly honoured by this international recognition and I hope that it will be a motivation to the younger generation to work harder," Lartey-Young told ACI Africa Tuesday, October 29. 

“Seeing my students successfully passing through school and imparting positively on society has been the motivating factor and that gives me job satisfaction,” she added.

The AU sees the Teacher Prize as “an important and valuable instrument that contributes to the success of Agenda 2063 and the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA).”

From the AU report, the October 23 event was “facilitated by outgoing Head of the Education Division, Dr Beatrice Khamati Njenga, was attended by Dr. Yumiko Yokozeki, Director of UNESCO Institute for Capacity Building in Africa; and Ambassador Ranieri Sabatucci, European Union Head of Delegation to the African Union, as well as Ambassadors and officials from the AUC Permanent Representatives’ Committee (PRC), senior officials from Member States, RECs, Universities, education development agencies; as well as Media and other partner organizations.”

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