PERSONALITY PROFILE: CoEWJ Interview with Mr. Eric Asomani Asante, 2020 Ghana’s Most Outstanding Teacher. Old Student, Asokore SDA College of Education

CoEWJ: Good morning! Welcome to the Colleges of Education Weekly Journal personality profile.

Mr. Asomani: Good morning and thank you for the opportunity.

CoEWJ: Kindly tell us your full name. And who are your parents?

Mr. Asomani: My name is Eric Asomani Asante. My mother’s name isMary Akoto and my father is Mr. John Asante Abankwa.

CoEWJ: Thank you. So, let’s begin with life growing up. What do you remember of life as little Eric?

Mr. Asomani: I wouldn’t say life was very easy growing up.I didn’t have the luxury of living with both of my parents as they were separated.I lived with my mother at Akoase in the Birim North district of the Eastern region whilst my father was in Accra. I am the second child of my mother’s six children.

I had my basic education at Akwiase SDA Basic School. I had my secondary education at St. Michael’s Secondary school also in Akoase. I moved to Tema after secondary school where I started doing business in photography in year 2001.

CoEWJ: Did you have any aspirations as a child? What were these aspirations, if any?

Mr. Asomani: I wanted to acquire knowledge and be able to help my family, my hometown and the nation at large.

CoEWJ: What motivated you to go to the training College?

Mr. Asomani: I had my motivation from a woman called Janet Boateng (she’s late now). She was then the youth leader of Tema Community 6 SDA church. I was an active member of the Adventist Youth Society at the time. When I had the opportunity to perform some duties in the church, she saw my competence and started encouraging me to take up teaching as she felt that I could be a good teacher. I pondered her advice deeply and convinced myself that if I followed her advice to become a teacher, it would be great. This was way back in 2002 when College forms were being released. Unfortunately, the year 2003 passed and I still could not go to College. She kept pushing. Finally, in the year 2005 I decided to go to college. I thought once I did, she would “stop worrying”. I bought the forms even though I had no one to pay for my admission, I got some money from some photography work I did for someone in Italy. I was paid more than I had charged and this helped me greatly as it enabled me pay my admission fee.

At the end of the first semester in College, I was convinced that I was at the right place. And here I am today, after all these years.

CoEWJ: Of all the Colleges in Ghana, why did you choose SDA College of Education?

Mr. Asomani: Well, I am an Adventist, however, what triggered me to opt for S.D.A College was the Adventist training I had at my basic school and Church. The Adventist training gave education that did not focus only on the mind but the totality of an individual with equal emphasis on moral values. Right from basic school, the school trained me on how to impact positively on the lives of others in the community.  In fact, I have not regretted going through Adventist training till now.

CoEWJ: Did you have any fond memories while in College?

Mr. Asomani: I have quite a number of memories. One that I can readily recall was at a time when we had to elect new leaders for the student body. My colleagues bought two nomination forms for me to contest for the College Prefect without my knowledge. I did not know what they saw in me to make them have that confidence in me. Well, I went through the vetting process at the student administration successfully, but I was denied opportunity to contest during the school administration vetting.

CoEWJ: Who was your favorite tutor back at College?

Mr. Asomani: They were all fantastic, but there was a man called Mr. Eric Sakyi who taught ICT. I used to go to his house to help him with tasks and he also reciprocated by giving me more training in ICT education. So although all the teachers were good, I’m mentioning his name due to the extra mile that he went to help me. He helped develop my interest in IT and today I have been able to publish ICT textbooks for basic schools across the country.

CoEWJ: What was your favorite food at the dining hall back in College?

Mr. Asomani: Beans and Gari, popularly known as ‘Gob3’.

CoEWJ: If your name was mentioned in SDA College today, what would you be remembered for?

Mr. Asomani: I have been out of College for years now and I may only be remembered through the school records as a Youth President.

CoEWJ: Where did you do your teaching practice?

Mr. Asomani: I did mine at the Asokore R/C School; it was closer to the College.

CoEWJ: Take us through your school days, from the basic level till date.

Mr. Asomani: As stated earlier, I started my basic school at Akoase SDA and completed in the year 1998. I should have completed earlier but because of financial constraints and other issues, the level of my truancy was too much. My uncle was my class teacher at the time and he told me one day that “Kofi, though you are good, your truancy won’t permit you to move to the next level with your friends”. He stayed true to his words.

I had my secondary education at St. Michael’s Senior Secondary School at Akoase and completed in 2001. After four years of working as a photographer, I gained admission to the SDA College of Education, Asokore – Koforidua and completed in the year 2008. I had my Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Education Winneba in 2011. While taking the degree, I also pursued a programme in computing which was organized by the Ministry of Education at Accra Training College. I continued teaching until I had scholarship in 2015 to pursue Network Engineering and Management in India. When I returned to Ghana in 2016, I applied for a Master’s in Education programme in IT at the University of Cape Coast (UCC). I had almost finished with the first semester but had to stop the programme. The course demanded that I had moved to UCC every two weeks meanwhile I was also preparing candidates for their final exams. Few months later, I applied for the same programme at Valley View University and I graduated in 2018 with a Masters in Education Curriculum and Instruction in ICT. I am hoping to start my MPhil anytime soon God willing.

CoEWJ: Any regrets on how life has unfolded for you all these years?

Mr. Asomani: Not really. There were challenges and I feel but for them I would have been pursuing my PhD by now. But through it all, I have been toughened and inspired to do more for humanity. Assuming I was from a well to do home, right after Secondary School I might have gone to the University to do my first degree and then my Masters and probably take a PhD without stress. But all things work for good, I am grateful for how far the good Lord has led me.

CoEWJ: Tell us about your journey to becoming the Most Outstanding Teacher in 2020.

Mr. Asomani: I declined the nomination from my school to contest for the Ghana Teacher Prize for a couple of years. At the beginning of this year, I was nominated again to contest for the Ghana Teacher Prize at the Metro level. Again, I refused it. In February 2020, I had a call from the Human Resource Manager of the Tema Metro Education Office, Mr. Kofi Mensah. He called to request my approval to add my name to the list of nominees having seen that I had undertaken some projects for the community and he believed things like that were the key things looked for when appraising contestants for the award. The first night that he called, I turned him down. After a couple of attempts from him I gave in to his suggestion.

At the preliminary stage of supervision, I had 76% and the closest was 64%. We were then asked to come for interview at the Metro level and by the grace of God I was among the top three picked to represent the Region. I had calls from various people congratulating me for my nomination to the National level. In all, we were 50 contestants across the country. Few months later, they picked 15 out of the 50 and published our names in the dailies. We were then asked to come for interview at Kumasi. I was interviewed by a panel on 9th September, 2020. The names of the top ten were published again in the dailies and I had to go for a presentation at Cape Coast, after which the award ceremony took place.

By the grace of God, at the end of the entire process, I emerged as 2020 Most Outstanding Teacher.

CoEWJ: What impact will the award have on your work? 

Mr. Asomani: As I said earlier, my philosophy is giving back to society because if I can read and write today, it is as a result of impact that society and my school had on me. In my write up for the award, there was a section where I had to state what I will do next if I win the award. I indicated that if I win, I would use my fame to solicit for funds to build an ICT and a Science laboratory for my Alma mater, Akoase SDA basic school. I have donated GH¢10,000 and cut sod on Sunday, 19th October 2020 for the commencement of work on the ICT and Science laboratory. Again, there are some deprived schools in Tema which I also indicated in my write up that I would help provide with a projector and a laptop. My view is that even if they have only one laptop and a projector, they can still use it to teach a large number of students. I am going to work towards that as well. I know this is going to open other avenues for me to do more, and it will motivate me to do more as well.

CoEWJ: How has SDA College of Education contributed to the person you are today?

Mr. Asomani: They have done a lot. My ability to do all these things depends on the leadership skills I gained from the school and the Church. Also, I was the AY President of the school and I had the opportunity to serve as the SRC Coordinator. My main work was to connect student body with the school authorities and I was also a Chaplain. All these put together have helped me to improve my delivery skills. When we went for the interview, we were asked to teach and if I could teach for them to appreciate, all thanks to the training and skills I acquired from Asokore SDA College of Education.

CoEWJ: How do you feel knowing that your predecessor, the 2019 winner of the Ghana Teacher Prize is also an old student of SDA College of Education?

Mr. Asomani: It is such a privilege and I am proud of her because for what I know, she is the first person from SDA College to win the prize since the inception of the Ghana Teacher Prize. I stand to be corrected though. I took some motivation from her victory as well. I do not think one College has ever won it on two consecutive times, so I know the school will be proud of us. Interestingly, last year’s winner was my senior at SDA College.

CoEWJ: Tell us about your immediate family.

Mr. Asomani: I am married to a beautiful and a God fearing woman by name Deborah Odoi Yeboah, we both reside at Tema. God has blessed us with three boys.

CoEWJ: What would you say is your greatest accomplishment in life so far?

Mr. Asomani: Socially, being able to make a nice home and impacting lives. Married with three children is a blessing from God. Again seeing my students excelling in various academic fields and behaving well in their communities is so fulfilling.

Professionally, that will be my ability to publish ten books. I see it as a great achievement. Academically, I have achieved a lot as well. Finally, God has helped to bring all my good deeds to light through the Ghana Teacher Prize for Ghana and the whole world to see, it is a great honor.

CoEWJ: What is your greatest challenge as teacher?

Mr. Asomani: Some of the children we manage come from homes which are not financially sound. Some of them tend to depend on teachers. You can see a very brilliant student who comes to school with empty stomach. Sometimes, you have to use your own money to help these kids. I have two students currently in the Senior High School that I am taking care of, at least provisions and vacation classes when on Gold or Green vacations.

CoEWJ: What do you do to relax?

Mr. Asomani: I like good Adventist music and other motivational songs. But the challenge is that I am always doing research, writing books, making presentations to train teachers, etc. Usually, I sleep late and I sometimes see it as challenge, but that is the work.

CoEWJ: Who is your role model?

Mr. Asomani: I have three on my list. Madam Shirley Bonnah Brobbey, my former head mistress at my current station, now on retirement. She would always find a way to motivate you even in the most difficult times. Second on the list is the primary head teacher, Madam Helen Ameley. She always calls me and say “Eric, do not let money cloud your judgment and do your work wholeheartedly”. The last person is my current head teacher, Mrs. Afia Serwaa Debrah. I am very fortunate to have worked with great leaders throughout the years.

CoEWJ: Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?

Mr. Asomani: I am hoping to have my PhD by then and for the teaching, I am not going to stop. Some years to come I hope to be lecturing in any of the Universities in Ghana.

CoEWJ: Do you think we are doing well as a country when it comes to education?

Mr. Asomani: I would say we are down a bit. Last year’s analysis on performance by countries, I think Ghana was ranked last but one. That is not the best, but now that there is the existence of the new curriculum, as a teacher with mastery over my subjects, I can see that the curriculum is now practically oriented which can help project our education. Let us give ourselves the next three years and Ghana can be in the top ten. Provided we, teachers, teach with enthusiasm and love.

CoEWJ: Do you think teachers are being treated fairly?

Mr. Asomani: This is a good question. We are being paid and before anyone employs you, you are given the conditions of the job. So when you accept to do the work, it means you are happy with the work. I see it as an agreement that we have entered and the fairness, I believe it is there. I am also grateful that our employers are working on giving us some allowances as well.

CoEWJ: Which teacher union do you belong to and are you impressed with the work they are doing?

Mr. Asomani: I am a GNAT member. As a person, I do not follow their work much hence I cannot comment much, honestly. I focus on what I must do as an individual to project myself and my work. I believe they are there for us, no doubt and I hope they will be able to work for the benefit of all.

CoEWJ:  Have they reached out to you after you won the award?

Mr. Asomani: No, they have not. I think maybe I must present myself to them instead. That is how it should be.

CoEWJ: Your final words to our cherished readers, please.

Mr. Asomani: All I have to say is that, it does not matter what your profession is or where you find yourself. What matters is that you must make excellence your hallmark. We should not think of what we are losing at a certain point of time but how greatly the society can benefit. One day, our good deeds will come to light and we will be rewarded accordingly.

CoEWJ: Thank you very much for interacting with us.

Mr. Asomani: Thank you for the opportunity, I am very honored.

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