When I was still a student at high school, my dream was to study law at the university because at that time it was considered as one of the most prestigious arts courses. Lawyers were regarded highly and the law profession was synonymous with wealth. I had never thought of becoming a teacher because the teaching profession was considered as low paying. I did not know that some years later, I would fall in love with teaching. I am very proud of being a teacher.
My law dream was shattered when I failed to raise the cut off points for the law course at the university yet I could not afford high tuition fees for my dream course on private sponsorship. Everything turned upside down. My mother advised me to pursue the government funded education course but this was like adding insult to injury. I told her that I was not interested in pursuing a teaching career. She told me that it was not true that teaching was a bad profession. I remember that she pointed out some of the advantages that were associated with pursuing a teaching course like being sure of getting a job shortly after graduation and being able to study other courses of my interest in future. All this was trash to me. I disregarded her advice.
By then I was a young person full of ambition. I also believed that teachers could not become successful in life. I did not know that circumstances could compel someone to change the career plan to something else that he might have never imagined. I thought that my calling was in legal practice. I did not believe that what matters is what you do when you join the field of work but not how prestigious your profession may be. I took some time to embrace my mother’s proposal. After weighing the few options which I had at my disposal, I took a firm decision to pursue the teaching career.
I gradually developed interest in teaching and I became more enthusiastic about it during my first teaching practice. I observed that the students were eager to learn English language and Literature. The learners’ enthusiasm inspired me to teach with vigour. I did not know that the students could inspire their teachers to love teaching. My experiences during the first teaching practice changed my attitude towards the profession and I developed passion for teaching with a view of helping the young souls out there to attain knowledge and skills in order to shape their destiny. To them, what matters is the teacher’s ability to help them learn regardless of whether the individual’s calling was to practice law or to teach.
Over the years, I have observed that categorizing professions is stereo-typing which does not help the society to transform at a reasonable speed. In my view, all the professions are very important because they equally contribute to the socio-economic development of our society. It is high time we stopped focusing more on professions that we consider as being lucrative to the individuals. The bigger picture should be to render service to humanity. If we change our mindset, we shall be able to cater adequately for the needs of the society. All professions should be rated at the same level because we need good teachers, doctors, journalists, lawyers, accountants, engineers and social workers among others. Education plays a key role in the transformation of society and this implies that those who become teachers should be supported morally so that they serve diligently and stop regretting why they did not join other professions.
I think that we need to encourage the young people to pursue careers for purposes of serving humanity rather than considering the personal benefits. It is wrong for the parents to discourage their children from joining the teaching profession on grounds that teachers earn little money. Imagine a situation where every parent would discourage their children from becoming teachers. Do you think we would be able to get enough doctors, lawyers, journalists, accountants and engineers?
There are several teachers out there who are successful because they are very creative. This clearly indicates that success is not a preserve of a few professions. As teachers, we only need to encourage one another to be creative in order to diversify our sources of income. We should show our students that we are passionate about teaching in order for them to enjoy what we teach them. It is our responsibility to promote the teaching profession and to inspire the young people to join us willingly in future.
I do not regret being a teacher because I know that I have touched many hearts of young people and I have helped them to plan for a better future. I consider teaching as a noble job that enables me to impact the society positively. Teaching is a service above self and all the teachers should love it whether it was their career dream or not.
The writer is a lecturer at Kigali Institute of management