Anne Bessong, a passionate and charismatic teacher, is the Head of Schools at Eaglesworld Global Schools in Ajah, Lagos state. In this interview with ENE OSANG, the journalist turned teacher, said teaching is her passion.
You have been in teaching profession for 20 years, how did you become a teacher?
I did not start off my career as a teacher, I worked with the media in the past, even now I also edit/proof read magazines/books for publication.
I am the second child of late Pa & Mrs. Aloysius Chukwuemeka. I attended St. Agnes Primary School, Maryland and Immaculate Heart Comprehensive High School, Maryland. My mother was a teacher and my dad a chartered accountant.
I got my first degree from the University of Port Harcourt in 1991 and Masters degree from the University of Lagos in 2014, both in English Language.
Yes, I have been teaching for over 20 years. I moved up to headship positions in 2007, that is 11 years ago. I am presently the Head of Schools at Eaglesworld Global schools, Ajah. It comprises preschool, primary, & secondary schools.
I did not start off my career as a teacher by choice, I got tired of my first son being bullied in school so I decided to quit my job in the media to become a teacher.
My passion for teaching grew over the years as I worked with children of different ages and capabilities. I had to go back to school to get certified as a teacher in order to have the relevant requirements for the job.
Teaching is not a job but a ministry that requires all that one has in terms of physical & psychological strength and input. There is no greater joy than seeing pupils/students in one’s care becoming better academically and otherwise. Doing with ease things they could not do before.
What was your experience in the media like?
My days in the media were remarkable. I worked in the print and electronic media, television precisely, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself.
It honed my writing skills and sharpened my communication skills. It also opened doors for me, creating opportunities to meet people in high places.
So, how has it been so far?
My journey as a teacher is still on. So, I cannot categorically say that I have got to the peak of my teaching career. I still attend trainings, whether as a facilitator or organiser, I still learn from each seminar/workshop.
Do you believe that teacher’s reward is in heaven?
Teachers’ reward left heaven a long time ago and is now here on earth. I think that saying came from back in the days when teachers worked so hard for meagre pay, stipends really.
The saying was a palliative one that was meant to give them some kind of hope that whatever reward they could not get here on earth, will surely be given to them in heaven.
Do you have any regret being a teacher?
No regrets whatsoever. Truth is that none of my children ever passed through my class. However, understudying and understanding them helped me a great deal on the job.
My first son graduated with a First Class in Network and Telecommunications Engineering. His brother is presently studying Software Development Engineering.
When I counsel parents, I don’t just talk from the viewpoint of a seasoned teacher but also from the position of a successful parent.
How would you describe the teaching profession in Nigeria?
The teaching profession in Nigeria really needs to be overhauled. I believe teaching should not be a last resort in the absence of other careers and that begins from choice of course of study.
Undergraduates study courses in Education because they could not meet up with their original choices; graduates go into teaching because they could not get their dream jobs, then mediocrity sets in it’s very sad really.
This is the reason private schools are taking over. Owners, who know what it takes, will only hire teachers who know what is required and have passion for the job.
As an experienced professional, what is your take on Nigerian education system?
The Nigerian education system is a bit tedious but once a student gets a hang of it, he will easily excel anywhere else in the world, that’s for those that go about it the right way.
The government still has a long way to go, which is why those who can afford it continue to enrol their children in schools abroad.
Do you agree that teaching is the best career for women?
With the way the world is moving, any one still latching on to stereotypes must belong to the distant past.
However, for pre-schoolers, women remain the best bet. Not men or inexperienced ladies.
How would you describe teacher-pupil relationship today compared to the past?
Teacher-pupil relationship is a whole lot better now than in the past. Before, the teacher was the be all and end all in the class room but not anymore. Now education is child-centred so the teacher has to focus on methods that will help their pupils/students to better understand the lesson.
The relationship now is a whole lot better pupil/student success is what determines teachers’ success. Better still, teachers’ success is measured by his/her pupils’ success
What would you say is your greatest achievement as a teacher?
My greatest achievement, apart from my own biological children that are thriving, remains pupils and students that have passed through my class and are presently doing well in different endeavours in life. Some are even married with children of their own and that really gladdens my heart.
Where do you see yourself in the nearest future?
Aside teaching, I have my private practice which offers in-service trainings, school set-up, and staff recruitment. I facilitate staff trainings and help with setting up schools.
I compere events (MC) and I completed a course in events management not too long ago, to better position me in that area.
In the nearest future, I see me as a very successful education consultant organising workshops that will greatly impact the education sector.
How would you assess the present administration in terms of development of the education sector?
Though I shy away from any form of politics, I am a firm believer that a nation always gets the leader it deserves. Nigeria is not an exception. That said, I want to believe that God knows and sees all we are presently passing through. The present administration is doing what they can as best as they know how.
What is your take on women being blamed for moral decadence among youths because of abandoning their homes to chase career?
It won’t be right to blame the ills perpetrated by youths in the society on women/mothers chasing career alone. Though the bulk of the blame still rests at our door post.
Women are home makers by nature, so with or without a career, nature expects us to play our roles. In event that our work requires too much time, then we may have to re-arrange our priorities especially when children are involved.
When adequate time is not given to nurturing children, the tendency for them to become delinquent is very high.