By Okegwo Kenechukwu
Meet Tochukwu Ofojebe , an unsung hero whose contribution to the academic sector of Anambra state is yet to be rewarded.
He is a blind physics, mathematics and chemistry teacher of 29 years of meritorious service. He is the head of department of sciences at the Urban Girls Secondary School Ekwulobia Aguata LGA of Anambra State. Born in Umuabu village Adazi Enu Aniocha LGA of Anambra State, the visually impaired teacher said he was born some 50 years ago, although not born blind, in Abakiliki in Ebonyi State.
His father was a transporter while his mother a petty trader. Tochukwu attended the Anambra State University of Science and Technology Awka (ASUTECH), now Nnamdi Azikwe University where he studied Industrial Chemistry. Upon graduation in 1986, Tochukwu secured a teaching job at the school of preliminary studies, Keffi, now Nassarawa State University from 1987 to 1989.
He later got a job with Anambra State at the former Girls High School Ekwulobia as a mathematics and physics teacher and for the 29 years he has been there. He said: “I teach mathematics, physics, chemistry and even civic education. I ventured into civic education because it is mostly current affairs and I read a lot of newspapers and magazines through good use of my laptop.”
How I got blind
“My eye problem started barely one month into my university and it was diagnosed to be glaucoma. I came out one morning on October 12, 1982, precisely and noticed a cloudy vision. It continued to deteriorate until 1997 when I lost my sight completely. I could not walk or move alone.
They said it is hereditary but it has not been traced to any of my relations.” I could write on my own and see the margin lines in paper especially during exams, but my doctor advised me to discontinue my education but I refused and today that has been my saving grace. I have no regrets about it now. I was about 16 years when I lost my sight but I managed to continue.
The doctor told my parents that I might lose my sight and they were apprehensive and refused to tell me until my crisis became inevitable. That was when they told me about the doctor’s advice. My father also advised me to discontinue but I refused.
However, I may call it a case of mismanaged glaucoma because at the initial stage they were issuing me lenses but it was not a case of lenses.”
Talking about his experience in the school for the past 29 years he said: “I can say I have done my best to train a lot of people, some of them are doctors and pharmacists. Some of the medical doctors and other students were not even my students here in this college.
People come from far and near to attend my private lessons. I have also written 16 books. These include All Schools Mathematics for Senior Secondary Schools, Examination SSSE, University Matriculation Examination and other pre-degree exams.
“This book is approved by the Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States Ministry of Education and is in use till today. My novels are also in use at various tertiary institutions like Federal Polytechnic Oko, Nwafor Orizu Collage of Education, Federal Collage of Education Umunze and Nnamdi Azikiwe University Awka among others. My Beyond Expectation novel was used in the Junior Secondary School Exams this year now called Basic Education Certificate Examination.”
“I was not happy that in the last teachers’ promotion exams I was not promoted. I was thinking that with this my little effort I would have got it. They also did not allow show of specialties because I felt I merited it. I am a deputy director now and have a few years to go.”
“I had wanted to continue with my education but what delayed me was lack of knowledge of computer. However I have taken my SSCE Exams to make up my credentials in Arts subjects. My vision was to read Law, so that when I retire I would have something to fall back on. I also have plans to link up with radio and TV Broadcasting stations so that I can teach the subject I love so much on air. I will also accept any other offer of appointment in any international school after my retirement.”
Tochukwu said he loves sports, particularly football.
“I was in active sports until I lost my sight completely. However, I do charitable work with my little salary because when I see some of my colleagues who are exceptionally intelligent my heart bleeds to see them roaming the streets begging for arms. I had also donated books to ministry for the teaching of children in schools and orphanage homes.”
Tochukwu has a friend and a blind student of Binna Foundation Thinkers Corners Enugu named Maduabuchi Onuagbaka Nnofu. He is a native of Eziagulu Ekwulobia and is being trained in cosmetology and Braille by Tochukwu. Mr. Nnofu a 43-year-old man said he was picked up by Tochukwu in the last three months to study at the institution where he would be trained on how to produce cosmetics and have knowledge of Braille for six months.
He passionately appealed to wealthy individuals and philanthropist organisations to invest in people with physical challenges. Toochukwu is happily married to Mrs Amarachi Ofojebe with five children namely; Tochuksu Ofojebe Einstein 10, Chinadindu Benoulli Ofojebe 8, Chidiuso Kenedy Ofojebe 6, Chimzuruoke Karl Fredrick Ofoojebe 4 and Ifunanya Sumantha Ofojebe 2.
“You know without sight, one has to work hard to devise how best to impart this knowledge to the children. Because of this I find myself working all the day trying to devise the best way to teach. Another one is that in the society, if you are physically challenged as I am you find it difficult to mix with people. Anybody you want to approach would think you are coming to beg for alms. However I am happy and grateful to my God that I acquired the knowledge and now I am computer literate.
There is nothing that I want to read or search that I cannot get, using my Laptop screen reader. I no longer depend on anybody. I want to thank the Governors of Anambra, Enugu and Ebonyi States.
I am particularly grateful to Governor Willie Obiano of Anambra and my principal Mrs Ebere Okeke, they have been wonderful. I had also in the past made efforts to see my Governor but it did not work out. Let me therefore use this medium to thank him for the good work he is doing in Anambra and for appointing a physically challenged person as a permanent secretary. He has done noble deeds and God will reward him.