The Covid-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on education systems worldwide. Teachers, the essential ingredient of all education systems are facing hard times majorly due to unpaid salaries but also uncertainty as to when they will resume their duties.
A chat with some of my colleagues in the profession gave me a picture of despair. While in the beginning many teachers took on the responsibility to provide learning materials remotely, the feedback from employers was not at all convincing. School owners went mute and in some scenarios adamant.
The majority of school owners have not supported their teachers in anyway. It is understandable if salaries don’t come in but a few MBs of data, maize flour and beans from the school stores have also not been received. This is frustrating!
As a teacher, you are yet to face the worst. Some schools will terminate your contracts and ask you to re-apply. You might also receive news of your school generously donating to the Covid-19 task force while you go hungry and your debts keep pilling. Dear teacher, what will you do?
Lessons from a former head teacher
Around 10 years ago, I was privileged to work as a computer lab technician at St. Peter’s SSS Nsambya. Mr. Mpoza Joseph Mary, the head teacher, in many of his addresses advised us to do more than we are asked for – to go the extra mile. At that time, I only thought that he was forcing us to work harder for his benefit while giving us the same salary. I thought the head teacher was selfish.
Nevertheless, for fear of losing my job, I upped my game and did my best. I remember spending a night in the computer lab trying to do some unfinished work before the term broke off. This was just one of the ways I went the extra mile. There was surely no direct benefit in trying to appeal to my bosses.
However, this helped me develop a culture that saw me going the extra mile for students too. What I have discovered is that what we may not be able to achieve on our own, we can achieve through those that we sacrificed for, those that we pushed to higher levels, those that we groomed. I will mention an example.
When I and Rogers Mukalele partnered to start our web design and hosting business, we had very little experience in how we were going to sustain it. After a year of hiccups here and there, we were honoured to be guided by Alex Bwogi, the team lead at MFANO Design hub in Muyenga. Alex happens to be one of my former students of St. Peters’ SSS Nsambya.
Even after school, we kept in touch and he used to frequent my Internet cafes in Nabbingo and Kyengera. Infact, the first TV that my Internet cafe had was donated by this generous former student of mine. When Alex started his game station business, I was one of those that offered guidance once in a while. Fortunately for Alex, his star kept rising fast.
Early this year, we paid Alex a visit at his swanky offices in Muyenga were he personally took us through a series of trainings worth 20 million Uganda shillings but at no cost. Today, E-zone Web Services has seen steady growth in its portfolio and earnings. The extra mile I went to groom a young boy 10 years back is bringing blessings in ways far better than the salary I was grudgingly yearning for.
Today, I have been places and continue getting benefits through students I have groomed over the years. Few school owners will treat you with the respect you deserve – no doubt. In the eyes of many, you are just another disposable asset with little or no value.
You will feel used, especially during these covid-19 times. The hypocrisy of many school directors will surely be exposed, and remember, you can easily be disposed of. Use this time to know your worth and read my article on business ideas a teacher of ICT can do.
My fellow teacher, keep doing what you are supposed to do, give your all using the available means but above all, serve your students. In the end, our students are more likely to propel us forward than the directors we serve – it’s a bitter fact.
Stephen Dumba is the co-ordinator Central Region ICT Teachers Association of Uganda. Besides teaching, he is a veteran Computer Repair Technician and a Web Designer
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