One of the most important professions, teaching, has from time immemorial been the least appreciated. It is a song that has been sung for decades but their lamentations are never far away.
This issue is not confined to Rwanda only, but to nearly all so-called developing countries where the most critical professions find it difficult to make ends meet.
A few years ago, the medical profession, those who worked in public hospitals, were in similar circumstances. There was low morale and service provision was on a downward spiral because doctors were giving more attention to their after-office private practices.
One can confidently say that today doctors in Rwanda have little to complain about as they are among the top paid civil servants and are not in a hurry to quit public service like before.
It took time and careful planning to bring doctors where they are today and the same can happen to the 60,000 teachers. Already they have Umwalimu Sacco for teachers to acquire loans and in which the government pumps in Rwf 5 billion annually to increase its portfolio.
But other ideas should also be discussed and considered, such as a suggestion by a member of the opposition when Parliament was discussing the issue of quality education.
He suggested that just like the security services have Army Shop where food and other necessities are subsidized, teachers should also have their own Umwalimu Duty Free Shop, or something to that nature.
It might seem a small gesture but it could go a long way in improving teachers’ welfare. It is quite a noble idea worth looking into; after all, they are only 66,000 teachers so Rwanda Revenue Authority will not miss much in terms of taxes.