Bravo fellow teachers! I know that most of you are enjoying the longest holiday of the year after teaching, inspiring, mentoring and empowering the young people since the beginning of this year. Ours is a noble profession without which, society cannot develop.
I wish to encourage you to feel proud of being teachers because we do a great job of imparting knowledge and skills in the minds of the learners and as a result, we produce responsible citizens who are ready to serve the society in various capacities.
I have interacted with several fellow teachers over the years but I always get disappointed whenever some of them tell me that they do not like teaching and that they opted for it as a last resort. Whether teaching was your first choice or last resort, you need to acknowledge that you are now a teacher and the society relies on you to groom the young people into becoming productive individuals who contribute to the political, social and economic transformation of the society.
We cannot have wonderful leaders, doctors, lawyers, journalists, accountants and engineers without the effort of the teachers. Whenever, I see a good medical doctor, I reflect on the big number of teachers who worked tirelessly to ensure that the individual becomes a doctor. Just imagine the day that doctor first appeared in a kindergarten at the age of say four years. It took the teachers a lot of effort to groom and empower the individual with the right skills.
Some years back, I chatted with a colleague who dreaded the teaching profession and he argued that teachers always identify themselves with the most successful people in the society by claiming that such individuals passed through their hands other than working hard to attain their own success. I considered the argument as being shallow because I do not see anything bad about a teacher feeling proud of the fame of his former students. The fact is that as we teach the students, we develop strong attachments with them and we begin considering them as our children.
Who would not feel proud of the academic success of his children? Some people think that our focus is majorly on the salary that we get rather than the destiny of our learners but it is not the case. We always look beyond the salary and that is why we get disappointed whenever some of our students fail to make it to the next academic level.
When our students sit for the final examinations, we feel as if we are also doing the same examinations and when they finish a given paper, we always rush to check the question papers to see what they have done. When the final examination results are released, we join our students to celebrate their victory and this is an indication that we celebrate the fruits of our efforts.
I acknowledge the fact that the teaching profession does not enable one to earn as much as what the other professionals earn in terms of salary but we can still prosper by being very creative. There are many teachers who have become prosperous by establishing their own schools through partnerships and I have found out that private schools that are owned by professional teachers are more stable and successful than those owned by people of different professions. Therefore, we should desist from self-pity by venturing into other income generating activities that can make us prosper other than relying entirely on our monthly pay.
As we keep lobbying for better remuneration from our employers, we should also consider creating some income generating activities that can boost our earnings. Good enough, there is the ‘’Umwalimu Sacco’’ in this country which offers financial support to teachers through soft loans that can be used as startup capital for some businesses. We should exploit this chance in order to improve on our financial situations. I have read about several teachers who have become successful entrepreneurs after acquiring loans from the teachers’ Sacco.
Increasing teachers’ salaries by a bigger percentage may not happen as per our expectations due to budgetary constraints but I think that if more money is injected into the teachers’ Saccos, it will benefit many teachers and we will be able to create some businesses that will help us make profits to supplement on our salaries. What is important is for us to change our mindset and stop thinking that it is salary increment alone that will make us become prosperous. We should instead lobby government to give more financial support to the Saccos such that most of us can access loans at a low interest rate. I believe that this is more sustainable in the meantime as we dialogue with our employers to have our salaries reviewed upwards.
Otherwise, we should feel proud of being teachers because we are the pillars of society.