Teacher of the Year teachers kenya - Years of sacrifice, commitment to profession made teacher star

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Teacher of the Year Kenya 2018

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For Mr Elijah Ogoti Ongarora, being named the 2018 Teacher of the Year was the best reward to his efforts in ensuring his students perform to their best. 

Mr Ongarora, a teacher at Tartar Girls in West Pokot County, emerged top among thousands of teachers and was feted during an annual teachers meeting held in Mombasa last week.

On Monday, the teacher of History and Kiswahili received a hero’s welcome at the school from colleagues, parents and students. 

They sang, danced and showered him with praise for emerging the best and putting the school in the limelight.

The celebrations extended to the nearby Makutano town with business coming to a standstill temporarily. “I never thought that one day I would become the best teacher and be mentioned by everyone in the country,” said Mr Ongarora on Monday.

Born 44 years ago in Masobo village, Nyaribari Masaba constituency in Kisii County, Mr Ogoti has been teaching in various schools for the past 20 years. Over the years, he said, he has equipped students with the skills they need to become the best.

“This win came with a lot of sacrifices in terms of time, material and team work. I attended class, I marked students’ work, I did everything that pertained to my profession and I trusted in God to guide me in doing what is best for my students,” he said.

The University of Nairobi graduate was first posted to St Brigid’s Girls in the neighbouring Trans Nzoia where he taught for 14 years.

He said he has never turned his back on a student who sought his help. “I give my learners priority. I am passionate about teaching and I am very committed to it,” said Mr Ongarora who had always dreamt of becoming a teacher.

He holds a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Management from Aga Khan University, Dar es Salaam, and is a senior teacher at the school’s humanities department.


To help students understand subjects better, Mr Ongarora said he always carries audio lessons to every class to complement what he teaches.

Technology has also contributed to his achievements as he always interacts with his students on Gmail even when they are on holiday. He also ensures his teaching notes are both in hard and soft copy, making them accessible to students.

“I have saved all teaching/ learning materials online in my class Gmail account. Students access the account for materials that range from short summarised notes, guidebooks, and question and answer assignments in the subjects I teach,” he said.

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To hone his skills, Mr Ongarora has enrolled in various short professional development courses. “My father was a good teacher and I have always wanted to be like him,” he added.

In the last two Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education examinations, his classes have scored a mean score of B+ in both subjects.

The school’s deputy principal Ruth Omayo praised Mr Ongarora, saying he is dedicated to his profession.

“I have known him for one-and-a-half years. He has uplifted the school’s performance,” she said. 

West Pokot Kenya National Union of Teachers Secretary Martin Sembelo said Mr Ongarora is a unique teacher. “We are proud of him,” he said.


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