Teaching is one of the most challenging yet least lucrative professions especially in developing countries like Nigeria. This, perhaps, is what inspired the widely popular saying that the teacher’s reward is in heaven. In spite of the poor remuneration and apparently non-attractive conditions that most teachers are subjected to, some of them have chosen to see beyond the pain and sacrifice; they are motivated by the challenge of nurturing and cultivating the greatness in their wards. One of such outstanding teachers is Franca Maigeri Longe.
In spite of the prevailing trend that has seen teachers hop from one school to the other in search of greener pastures, Longe has put in about two decades of service at Solomon Grace International Schools, a private school in the Abule-egba area of Lagos state. She attributes this to the contentment and satisfaction she derives from seeing her pupils transcend from one level of knowledge to another as they grow to the fullness of their potential.
The result of her dedication is evident in the great minds that have emerged from her tutelage. One of them, Oluwafifehan Ogunde, was full of praises for his Primary 2 class teacher when he returned from the UK after recently completing a Master’s degree in law. “She believed in me when no one else did,” he said.Corroborating Ogunde’s statement, the teacher recalled encouraging the young boy when others had either given up on him or simply ignored him.
“Babajide Ogunde was a very quiet and unassuming pupil,” she said. “You would think he doesn’t know anything but getting closer, I discovered like so many children that he’s an intelligent child. I remember talking to him that he needed to speak out. You don’t concentrate only on the vocal children. There are other children that may be quiet and timid but with proper attention, you will see them blossom.”
Longe further advised teachers to encourage quiet pupils to talk, adding that “one of the ways to do it is to ensure that no child shouts down another child so that you don’t kill the confidence of the children. Even if what the child is saying doesn’t make sense, I try to make sense out of it to encourage him or her. I encourage them to read story books and I make them talk to me about what they have read, and even when they talk to me, I don’t judge them.”
On this occasion of World Teachers Day, we rise to celebrate the exceptional commitment of unsung nation builders like Madam Franca Maigeri Longe and thousands of relatively unknown teachers who are silently working in their various capacities, to deliver the future. These people deserve our regard and recognition. They need not wait till they get to heaven before receiving their reward.
Titilayomi Mobolaji-Adeyemi writes from Lagos, Nigeria. She can be reached via [email protected]