PERSONALITY PROFILE. CoEWJ Interview with Mr. Sampson Tagbor, Former TTAG National President. 2020 SRC Presidential Aspirant, University of Ghana, Legon.

CoE~WJ: Good morning and welcome to the CoE~WJ Personality Profile Segment.

MR. TAGBOR: Good morning and thank you for having me. Permit me to use this opportunity to commend you and the entire team behind this Journal. Trust me, you guys are doing a great job. Few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to read about the Executive Secretary of the National Council for Tertiary Education through your Journal. My colleagues at the University were so impressed by the standard of your works. Quite recently, I also read about a close friend – Dr. Prince H. Armah also in your Journal. You guys deserve commendation. Unfortunately, your Editor does not love for his name to be mentioned. But I must say he is a great guy. For those who may not know, he started this works back in College when he was in Level 100 at FRANCO. He is a gifted chap and good at working on initiatives.

CoE~WJ: Briefly tell us about your life growing up as young Sampson.

MR. TAGBOR: I had a very humble lifestyle growing up as a kid. Growing up, I stayed with my grandmothers, i.e my father’s mother and my Mum’s mother at Keta. My parents were outside the country at the time, hence, most of my life has been with these grannies. This actually made me witness and experience the old generation kind of upbringing. When I came of age a little, I was taken to Nigeria and Benin where I attended school for a while before returning to Ghana to continue my education. Along the line, I had to pause and travel to Egypt to play in a Football Academy. I returned and moved to the Eastern Region after my mother moved backed to Ghana fully. In general, I would say I had a very adventurous lifestyle experience as a child due to the different environments I grew up in, until at least adolescent stage.

CoE~WJ: What were your aspirations as a child?

MR. TAGBOR: As a little boy I saw a lot of things that when given the opportunity I felt I could do. I always wanted to be great in whatever I do to better the life of others. I wanted people to say they have achieved greatness or excellence because of something little I did in my corner. That has always been my aspiration.

CoE~WJ: Briefly tell us about your educational journey from basic school to where you find yourself now.

MR. TAGBOR: I started my basic education at AME Zion Basic in Keta, Volta Region. After my trip to Nigeria, I continued for about three years until I left for the Eastern Region. I attended the Cocoa Research Institute Basic School from basic three to five until I returned to Keta again. Back in Keta I continued at AME Zion basic school where I later became the School Prefect. I wrote my BECE, passed successfully and left for the Eastern again for a year. I returned to Keta to continue my secondary school at the Keta High School. Due to circumstances, I could not complete secondary school at Keta so I moved to the Eastern Region to join my Mum and eventually had the final part of secondary school education at New Abirim Senior High School in the Eastern Region. Before joining my Mum in the Eastern Region, I left KETASCO around 2009. Between 2009 and the time I completed, I was away playing football in Egypt.

While in the secondary school, I always wanted to be a teacher. Therefore, what I did was to write NOV/DEC while in the secondary school. God being so good, I passed so well. While in second year, I applied to the St. Francis College of Education (FRANCO) and I got admission. I started school at FRANCO whiles finishing my secondary school simultaneously. This was because I wrote NOV/DEC.

I pursued a three-year Diploma in Basic Education, General programme at FRANCO. While at FRANCO, I was also taking up an access course with the Ghana Broadcasting Corporation as a Freelance Journalist. I completed FRANCO in the year 2016. Right after College, I proceeded to the University of Ghana, Legon. I have always wanted to be a business magnate at a point in my life. My family actually owns a couple of businesses. I felt that maybe in the near future, someone from the bloodline will have to take over the running of the businesses. Before taking up such task, you need to understand the rudiments of the business world before assuming such a responsibility. Therefore, I applied to study a BSc in Business Administration at the University of Ghana. I am still in school and I have a year to complete. This has been the journey so far.

CoE~WJ: You wanted to become a teacher during your secondary school days, why did you not go to the classroom after you completed the Training College?

MR. TAGBOR: That is a very good question. When I graduated from FRANCO and awarded a Certificate as a trained teacher, I was posted to village in the Volta Region called Logba Tota. Means of transport to the village was not available, access to the village was close to impossible. We had to trek for over four hours through mountainous bush to get there. When I was posted there, I, therefore, wrote to the Ministry of Education / Ghana Education Service stating the challenges we were facing with regards to our place of posting. I was told that I could only be reposted as an individual since I was once a TTAG executive. I was not comfortable being reposted while others were left to their fate. I decided to wait and be posted with the next batch of trained teachers since that would have made more sense. In the process of waiting, I decided to go back to school. I can therefore say that I have not left the teaching work completely. It may interest you to know that I still teach.

CoE~WJ: Tell us about your days at St. Francis College of Education.

MR. TAGBOR: Fantastic memories I call them. Lots of nostalgia feelings and beautiful memories. I must say that throughout my life, going to FRANCO is one of the blessings that has befallen me. My first week in the College was terrible, not because anyone was troubling me but because of the change in the ways of life as I knew it. Waking up to sweep on time, bath on time, dress on time, basically doing everything on time. All of these changes caused a lot of new reality before me and my colleagues as well. The discipline in FRANCO is way above what we have received in the secondary schools. This is because the institution is built solely on total discipline and there are structures that implement all these.

For instance, it is a punishable offense to miss morning mass or not to sleep at the stipulated time for sleeping. On any day and anytime, I will give credit to FRANCO as the institution that rebuilt me as long as life and discipline is concerned. I am forever grateful.

CoE~WJ: Among all the colleges in the Volta region and Ghana, why choose St. Francis College of Education?

MR. TAGBOR: We have only two colleges in Ghana, this is an open secret. We have St. Francis College of Education and the rest. In fact, when I decided to go to College, the only College that everyone recommended to me was St. Francis College of Education.

CoE~WJ: Who was your favorite tutor back in College?

MR. TAGBOR: This a tough question, this is because I had a lot of them. Actually, I still do. The top two would be two tutors popularly known as Mental (Mr. Jerry Agortey) and ‘Ahoya’ (Mr. Ambrose Ayikue). They have been a great source of inspiration to me. Others like Rev. Fr. Felix Akpa and Mr. Brany Nelson cannot be left out. They have all contributed greatly to my upbringing.

CoE~WJ: What was your favorite food from the dining hall back in FRANCO?

MR. TAGBOR: That would be rice balls ‘Omotuo’ and the chicken soup. I cannot forget it. I usually did not eat from the dining hall but on Wednesdays, I never missed dining for anything.

CoE~WJ: Tell us about your leadership journey right from the basic school days to date.

MR. TAGBOR: All things being equal and thanks to God for all the experiences we have gathered so far, the journey has been okay. I regard myself as a privileged fellow to have served from the scratch. As far as I can remember, I have a been a Course Rep from basic to secondary and through College to the University as well. I was a School Prefect in class six and did same when I got to JSS. When I went to the secondary school I again became the School Prefect at New Abirim Secondary School. At FRANCO, I contested for the National Vice President portfolio of the Teacher Trainees Association of Ghana (TTAG). In the ensuing academic year, I run for the national presidency and won where I became the National President of TTAG. While there, I served as a National Executive Council Member for the National Union of Ghana Students (NUGS) for two consecutive years. Finally, when I got the University of Ghana, I was elected as the Majority Leader for the University of Ghana Parliament House. I was later the Chief of Staff of the Commonwealth Hall. In that same year, I was Judicial Board member for the University of Ghana Business School. When I was progressing to Level 200, I became the Students Representative Council (SRC) PRO. In all I would say that I have served in over 20 portfolios in the three years that I have been in the school.

Finally, as we speak, I am on the ticket to become the next SRC President of the University of Ghana if not for the coronavirus pandemic.

CoE~WJ: What inspired you to vie for the SRC President of the premier University?

MR. TAGBOR: When you hear of the name premier university, the expectation becomes more. I have always known that the university should be the one institution producing the finest brains all over the country. These, they have done over the past couple of years.  When I got admission to the university, I became very active in the student leadership architecture. Those that came in contact me would attest to this fact. I took a critical look at the student leadership architecture and its entire configuration, unfortunately I was not impressed. I was a bit taken aback. I realized that if the picture I was seeing was the same picture in reality then there was a lot to be done. I concluded that it was about time student leadership changed from a mere representation to effective, relevant and efficient representation that speaks and advocates for the masses. That has been the changing trend in my decision to become the next SRC President of the University of Ghana. I told myself that if it must be done, it must be done well and if it must be done, it must be done by people who know how to do it for the betterment of the student populace. This has been the deciding factor for Sampson Tagbor to run for the office of the president of the University of Ghana SRC.

CoE~WJ: How has the journey been so far?

MR. TAGBOR: Well, it has not been easy. There has been ups and downs but we are grateful for coming this far. I guess due to my past experience of such processes, I would say so far so good.

CoE~WJ: Are you very hopeful about your chances of winning?

MR. TAGBOR: Yes, I am very hopeful without a single doubt with the grace of God. We are winning and we are going to deliver good leadership to the people pf the University of Ghana.

CoE~WJ: What would you consider as your greatest accomplishment in life so far?

MR. TAGBOR: That is to have qualified Ghana for the first time for the World Debate in London. I dreamt about this day a long time ago that I would have the opportunity to take this country to a different level. It gives me so much joy whenever I remember that moment. Hopefully, in the future, we will have a lot more coming.

CoE~WJ: Do you have any regrets in life?

MR. TAGBOR: No, I do not have any regrets. We live in a life full of uncertainties and we do not have to regret anything.

CoE~WJ: As a teacher, what is your view on the Education Bill currently in Parliament?

MR. TAGBOR: Well, I think that we are transiting very fast and it is good for the Education sector and the country at large. I had the chance to peruse the document and as people, we should know that the system revolves and when it does we need to be prepared to change with it. If we do not, we would constantly be behind the global ranking of education. That notwithstanding, I always believe that there is no right time for anything and that if you must do something you should. One must therefore, make available needed corrective measures to take care of the fallouts. The bill is good but when you take a closer look at them you realize there are a few questions which need answers and some amendments done to parts of it. 

CoE~WJ: What do you during your leisure?

MR. TAGBOR: I listen to music and do research. I want to be that person who knows virtually something about everything.

CoE~WJ: What is your favorite food?

MR. TAGBOR: That would ‘akple’ and any type of soup.

CoE~WJ: Any comments on issues of Virtual learning for students?

MR. TAGBOR: The electronic learning is not a bad idea; it has been my position that we have E – Learning platform in Ghana to aid the demands of Higher Education. But you see we are not in ordinary times and we can’t just push the policy through without recourse to the challenges that are pointed out. So authorities must sit with the various interest groups to shape the program well before its implementation, it will mean that we delay a little with the academic calendar.

CoE~WJ: What is your view on student leadership, do you think the current crop of student leaders are doing well for their constituents?

MR. TAGBOR: Being a student myself, I want to thank every student leader out there who has been doing their best to serve as a student leader. It is not easy at all. Let me be quick to add that, currently, most of our student leaders are not doing well. They think that the opportunity to serve in leadership is the time for them to do the bidding of their affiliated political parties to gain recognition. Others also only follow their personal and parochial interests and I think this is a worrying issue. This is because if for nothing at all, we know that no leadership will go without being criticized. But while we criticize, we must underscore the need to put the better gains in the interest of the masses. Nowadays, the politicians no longer call the student leaders but its rather the other way around, that is how bad the situation has become. I have one advice to give to them and that is, if they do that, the politicians know the details of student leadership. Therefore, when they throw themselves at these politicians for favor in the future, they are likely to end up with nothing. This is because the politicians will by then know your worth. 

CoE~WJ: Any student leader be it past and present that you think is doing well?

MR. TAGBOR: Yes, I have a few. The first would be myself, obviously. There is one gentleman called Paa Kwesi Adu, a former NUGS President. He has been very great and excellent. The next person would be Larry Agbador. Hate him or like him, the guy is unique in delivering when assigned a task. Very creative and innovative. Sometimes I sit back and watch some of the things he has done in the past and doing currently, I think he has a great mind and will do marvelously well in the future. There is also Julius Mawuse Cobbinah, Tinkaro formerly of NUGS, Frank Ohene Amoako, etc. They have all been tremendous in their fields.

CoE~WJ: What has been your relationship with TTAG after leaving office?

MR. TAGBOR: I have been in close contact with them. For some time now, due to the changing demands in the curriculum and the entire set up of the association, things are changing. Previously we had five Sectors and 38 Colleges. As we speak, we have about 46 colleges and new regions have been created as well. What it means is that, the new regions would need to have their own sectors and other modifications in the way things are done in the association. I always tell them that my doors are always open and they can call on me whenever they need my counsel. These are times for proper minds to be consulted for proper work to be done.

CoE~WJ: If you had the power to change anything in TTAG, what would it be?

MR. TAGBOR: I would change the leadership of TTAG. One challenge we have faced in TTAG is the alliance in deciding the leadership of the association. I strongly believe this has contributed to the leadership crisis we have seen in the past years. I would rather suggest all the executives be selected from the Colleges within the host Sector, i.e. in an election year when congress is to be held at Tamale College of Education (ATTRICONS), all the executives should come from the Northern Sector. My reasons are that, sometimes you need to hold an emergency meeting on a sensitive matter and the executives are scattered across the country. You realize that, that kind of distribution births some kind of discomfort. Imagine the failure of a particular year leadership be put on the sector, I bet you that no sector will allow such a tag to be placed on them. Therefore, they will do extremely better, putting aside their egos and personal interest for the greater gain of the association. I think that has worked in NUGS before.

CoE~WJ: Who was your favorite PRINCOF Executive during your time as TTAG President?

MR. TAGBOR: That would be Mr. J. M. Baako, a former Principal of Peki College of Education. He was the Executive Secretary at the time. He was basically a father, a brother and a friend. Great man by all standards. 

CoE~WJ: Your fondest memorable moments in TTAG?

MR. TAGBOR: Whenever we went for any annual calendar event like Congress and the Sectors are introduced. They will rise to show their presence with the various slogans. It was really interesting.

CoE~WJ: Where do you see yourself in the next decade?

MR. TAGBOR: Serving mother Ghana with all my will and with all my heart. 

CoE~WJ: Who is your role model?

MR. TAGBOR: That would be Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah and Julius Nyerere from Tanzania.

CoE~WJ: Your final words to our cherished readers.

MR. TAGBOR: I thank you for the opportunity and I want to encourage your readers to continue reading the journal just so we enrich the conversation for the greater benefit of the country. I urge everyone to stay safe in the crucial moment of our lives. 

CoE~WJ: Thank you for your time.

MR. TAGBOR: Thank you for the opportunity.

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