‘Illuminate Path for Future Generations’ -Elias Shoniyin Implores Ghanaian Teachers

MONROVIA: A renowned Liberian educator, Elias Shoniyin, has urged the teachers of Ghana continue to illuminate the path of knowledge for generations to come.

Delivering a Keynote Address a fortnight ago at the Annual Outstanding Teachers Summit in Ghana last Thursday by Mr. Elias Shoniyin, who is Former Deputy Foreign Minister of Liberia, said the summit as attended should be a source of inspiration and collaboration as “we work towards the betterment of education in the digital age”.

Mr. Shoniyin spoke on the theme of the summit, “Nurturing Outstanding Teachers in the Digital Age,” noting that in the landscape of education, “we find ourselves at a crossroads.”

According to him, the digital age has ushered in a wave of technological advancements that have reshaped the way people live, work, and learn.

“The role of educators has become even more critical as we navigate this ever-evolving educational terrain,” Mr. Shoniyin told the teachers at the summit.

“We find ourselves not only teaching our students but also preparing them for a world that is interconnected, technologically driven, and constantly changing. We find ourselves in an era of unparalleled transformation – the Digital Age.”

He asserted that the impact of technology on lives is undeniable, and it has revolutionized the way teaching is done now in the world, noting that the advent of the digital age has ushered in opportunities and challenges that require educators to adapt and evolve continuously.

“Today, we stand at the crossroads of traditional pedagogy and innovative practices, and the role of the outstanding teacher has never been more critical,” the Liberian diplomat said.

He added that in the heart of this technological revolution, Africa, and more specifically, Ghana, has shown remarkable resilience and adaptability.

“Our continent, rich in cultural diversity and steeped in history, is now embracing the digital age to bridge educational disparities, promote inclusivity, and empower the next generation. As educators, we bear the responsibility of ensuring that this transition is smooth and that no child is left behind,” he maintained, calling on all and sundry to acknowledge the pivotal role that outstanding teachers play in shaping the future of nations.

He said further: “An outstanding teacher is not merely a dispenser of knowledge; they are sculptors of young minds, catalysts for change, and beacons of inspiration. In this digital age, where information is abundant and easily accessible, teachers are no longer just conveyors of facts. They are guides, mentors, and facilitators of critical thinking, problem-solving, and creativity.”

“So, how do we nurture outstanding teachers in the digital age? It begins with a commitment to lifelong learning,” he stressed. “The rapid pace of technological advancement means that teachers must continuously update their skills and knowledge.

“Professional development opportunities, both traditional and digital, must be readily available and encouraged. Let us remember that the most effective educators are those who remain curious and humble learners themselves.”

He called for fostering a culture of collaboration among educators, urging that teachers in Ghana should come together to form communities of practice where they can exchange ideas, share best practices, and support each other in their professional growth.

“Together, you can create a network of excellence that benefits not only you but also the entire education system of Ghana,” he said, acknowledging that the digital age allows for global connectivity, enabling people to share experiences and best practices with peers around the world.

“Let us leverage these opportunities to learn from each other, to exchange ideas, and to collectively address the challenges we face,” he admonished. “In addition to individual growth and collaboration, we must advocate for supportive policies and investments in education. Governments, stakeholders, and communities must recognize the pivotal role of teachers in building a prosperous and equitable society.”

According to him, adequate resources, fair compensation, and conducive working conditions are not just benefits for teachers; they are essential elements for nurturing outstanding educators.

“We must harness the power of technology to enhance the learning experience. Digital tools can personalize education, making it more engaging and effective,” he said. “They can help teachers differentiate instruction and provide individualized support to students. However, we must also be mindful of the digital divide and work tirelessly to bridge it, ensuring that every child, regardless of their background, has access to quality education.”

The former Deputy Minister noted also that despite the availability of these innovative digital tools, “let us not forget that technology alone cannot replace the profound impact of a dedicated and caring teacher. While digital tools can enhance education, it is the human touch, the mentorship, and the personal connections forged between teachers and students that truly make a difference.

“Outstanding teachers excel not only in utilizing technology but also in fostering relationships and nurturing the social and emotional well-being of their students.”

He said there’s a story of a community that decided to honor industry leaders for their contributions to the community while the teachers were forgotten.

Upon arrival, he noted, all of the honorees came only to find out that they were all taught by an old, frail, but bold and confident woman who sat in the audience.

He narrated further: “They all declined to be honored while she sat in the audience, leaving the organizers of the honoring program with no option but to invite the old teacher up on stage to be honored as a symbol of appreciation for all of the professionals earlier designated to be honored. One of the designated honorees, on behalf of all other honorees, made the following statement:

‘To the world, you may be just another teacher, but to us, you are our hero. We respect you for what you have done for us all through many years. We know we were not the best students, but you were the best teacher we could ever ask for. We would have never been designated for honoring here today if it were not for you. Today, we seize this moment to acknowledge that in honoring you, our community has honored us all.  Thank you for accepting us for who we were and for loving us as much as you did.’”

Mr. Shoniyin noted that the 2023 Outstanding Teachers Summit is a shining example of the importance of recognizing and celebrating the tireless efforts of our educators.

“As we navigate the digital age, let us remember that outstanding teaching is not just about technology; it’s about inspiring and empowering our students to become critical thinkers, problem solvers, and responsible citizens,” he urged, adding: “Let us remember that the essence of outstanding teaching remains unchanged even in the digital age. It is about inspiring young minds, instilling a love for learning, and nurturing the values of empathy, compassion, and resilience. Let us strive to be the educators who guide our students not only in the mastery of subjects but also in the art of becoming responsible global citizens.”

He challenged the attendees to embrace the opportunities of the digital age while staying grounded in the timeless principles of teaching.

He said: “Let us continue to nurture outstanding teachers who are not just skilled in technology but are also passionate advocates for the transformative power of education. Together, we can shape a future where education continues to be a beacon of hope and empowerment for all.”

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