African Teachers’ Award UK – ATAUK ’21

ATAUK ’21 wInners


Conceived at a book launch in March 2019, ATAUK was an initiative created by the author of Logistics & Global Value Chains in Africa. Its author, Professor Adebisi Adewole of University of the West of Scotland, a university lecturer and teacher of over 30 years’ experience, conceived the issue of awards to UK teachers of African extraction based on the need to recognise and celebrate this specific group of education professionals.

Scheduled to take place in April 2020, ATAUK was postponed following the first national lockdown during the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic. Determined to fulfil the desire to recognise teachers, an organising committee was established to ensure the execution of the awards event, which was postponed to 3rd December 2021, with a close observation of Covid guidelines as issued by the government. A hybrid style event comprising of both in person and online attendance was agreed to give priority respectively to awardees, their family, friends and virtual guests the opportunity to view the event online via Zoom video conferencing.

A call for nominations including 8 categories was sent out via social media and several online groups, attracting several nominations from Early years through to Higher education level. After much deliberation, the following winners were selected:

The following winners emerged in each category:

  1. Evelyn Idio – Exemplary Early years and Primary teacher of African Heritage
  2. Remi Atoyebi – Outstanding and Impactful Headteacher of African Heritage
  3. Sultan Ososanya – Exceptional and Creative Secondary school teacher of African Heritage
  4. Felix Donkor – Outstanding and Impactful Principal of African Heritage
  5. Okito Tongomo – Exceptional and Creative FE/Sixth Form teacher of African Heritage
  6. Olubunmi Onafuwa – Outstanding and Exemplary in Teaching and Research HE lecturer of African Heritage
  7. Councillor Sunny Lambe – Highly professional, exceptional and inspirational education professional of African Heritage
  8. Ernest Yankey – ATAUK Honourary award

The organising committee had the pleasure of the offer by the Principal of Southwark College, the Atrium to host ATAUK ‘21. It may be recalled that it is at the same venue where the book was successfully launched in March 2019, the venue being approved by the then Director of Student Services. Exemplary, visible and supportive mechanisms of elevating marginalised communities in the spirit of widening participation and EDI principles are most appreciated and welcome by the African community.

Much appreciation is also extended to the facilities team who made possible the arrangements of logistics including IT equipment for the event.

Keynote speech

Given by the convener, Prof Adewole extolled the great contribution given by all teachers as nation builders in raising and fulfilling aspirations for young people. As referenced by the chair, Bilkisu Labaran in a prior discussion  gave credit to a beautiful mantra: a teacher takes a hand, opens a mind and touches a heart. Teachers, being the mother of all professions remains the most influential and ennobling of all careers.

An extract of the keynote speech:

Ladies and gentlemen,

I welcome you to this extraordinary historic event.

It is my greatest joy today to witness, and to be one of the principal actors who conceived and established the unique and unparalleled African Teachers’ Awards UK (ATAUK) for the recognition of African teachers practising in the United Kingdom. This award is special, and unequalled, because it is different from all other existing Awards we all may have witnessed. This Award is borne out of the launch of my book titled ‘Logistics and Global Value Chains in Africa – The impacts on Trade and Development, in March 2019. I am most grateful to Mrs Joyce Ayodele Elemson, Senior Curriculum Manager, Lewisham College, and Dr Toyin Coker of the same college for organising the book launch in that year. ATAUK was conceived in London at the post assessment and evaluation meeting of that book launch.

World Teachers’ Day is held annually on 5 October to celebrate all teachers around the globe and to commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO and UNESCO recommendations concerning the status of teachers and to set benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers.

In Africa, the first Africa Union Continental Teacher Prize was established in October 2019 in Addis Ababa to honour teachers for their commitment and contributions, and as a means for demonstrating respect for teachers and the teaching profession.

Teachers play a critical role in advancing quality of life through education, and thus are crucial to community development. ATAUK was established in March 2019 as a reflection on the commitment of teachers and how best to position African teachers in the development of African youths. This award is to encourage and celebrate committed teachers of African extraction in the United Kingdom. ATAUK is a significant and valuable instrument that we established to serve as a catalyst for promoting African teachers of high integrity across the continent. My colleagues and I came up with this initiative to raise the status of African teachers, and showcase their excellence in a way that will enhance their visibility and inspire the best within the African Community and to join in the commitment to develop African youths and culture at all levels including early years, primary, secondary and tertiary levels.

It is our commitment to celebrate and encourage outstanding teachers of African origin in the UK. The winners of this inaugural award had been selected from across the countries of Africa. Six African countries had been represented in the nominations, and our gathering tonight include guests from at least 10 African countries. This makes ATAUK truly African.

The evaluation and selection of the winners of tonight recognitions involved a keenly competitive process. High quality standard, student achievements, outstanding knowledge and approaches to engaging African students through their teaching, engaging in activities and networks that enhance African socio-cultural values, and their tenacity in encouraging peaceful co-existence and responsible citizenship in African children in school, as well as positive engagement with fellow teachers, community members and other stakeholders are the key attributes that won the hearts of students and colleagues who had  nominated and recommended the winners of tonight’s awards.

I am very thankful to my co-promoters of this award, Dr Toyin Coker and Mrs Joyce Elemson, who had worked tirelessly, with my little but incisive interjections all the way from Scotland, to make tonight’s success, despite the current unpredictable circumstances that we all live in today. Thank you to the twosome for taking my occasional sharp critiques with positive minds and for adopting some of them as good contributions from an honest and transparent mind.

On behalf of my colleagues in the board of African Teachers’ Award UK (ATAUK), I congratulate the winners of tonight on their well-deserved award of excellence.

To all our online guests around the world and those who have taken some time out to attend in person, on behalf of ATAUK, I appreciate your interest in our initiative and I thank you for attending this historic occasion.

God Bless Africa

God bless you all

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