One thing a teacher is never told when joining the profession is the fact that a super memory is needed along the way. And I am not talking about the kind of memory needed to have an answer for any question that a student asks randomly, even outside classroom.
The memory I am talking about is the street memory. The one that calls for you as a teacher to remember all the students you taught and the ones you didn’t teach but were in the school you taught in. I have learnt this the hard way almost on a daily basis.
As you walk along the street, you are stopped by a student and before you are done with the ritual of greeting you struggle to place the student in terms of class, year, subjects, talents, or any other category that can help you remember who exactly the student is. Sometimes I remember the student if he/she was popular or very bright in class.
Every now and then I meet some of my former students in different places and each time I do, I make it a point to ask them what they are doing with themselves. The responses always vary from, waiting to join the university, studying at the university, and working at company X. Others simply tell me point blank that they are not doing anything other than sitting at home.
The ones who are idle are also quick to tell me to find them jobs often insisting that they are ready to ‘do any job available.’ For sure jobs are not easy to find and this is more difficult when one has no skills or qualifications other than their secondary school leaving certificate.
However there is also a common tendency among the youth to despise certain jobs especially when they feel the job is not the kind that would create envy among their peers. Instead of waiting tables at a local restaurant or assisting at a local supermarket they would rather sit at home and dream of working for MTN or Airtel.
We all know that an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. Students who have just left school do not seem to know that a simple job can be a path to a better one or even a source of valuable lessons. They love to think that their first job will be their dream job forgetting that even presidents do other jobs before they can become president.
The above is probably a problem arising from the fact that career guidance is still lacking in many schools. Students study, sit exams and are unleashed unto the harsh world without the humility needed to approach the murky world that the labour market is.
Yet if they are taught not to despise work and that it is better to do a simple job than be totally idle and depending on your parents for even basic things like money to buy underwear, then we would groom a society that appreciates the value of hard work.
Students should not waste time dreaming of starting off their life with cool jobs that come with fat six figure salaries and a furnished office. They should instead get off their back sides and look around for anything they can do as they wait for that dream job or the time to join a university.
I am always happier seeing my students, who work in restaurants and supermarkets, rather than the idle ones who sit at home flipping through channels looking for another Nigerian movie, only stepping out to meet other fellow idlers in their neighbourhood.
Even if a paying job is not found, do not be afraid to volunteer as this will also save you from the evil of idleness. These simple jobs will lead to contacts for better jobs as well as offering valuable skills for future employment. Surely Rwanda does not need lazy citizens.