TEACHER'S MIND : Why it is difficult to heed the Minister’s message

WHILE officiating at the fifth graduation ceremony of Kigali Institute of Education (KIE), the amiable Education Minister made a very interesting remark. Dr. Charles Murigande urged the graduates from the teachers’ training institute to stay in their line of profession and serve the country instead of running to other fields after graduation.

WHILE officiating at the fifth graduation ceremony of Kigali Institute of Education (KIE), the amiable Education Minister made a very interesting remark.

Dr. Charles Murigande urged the graduates from the teachers’ training institute to stay in their line of profession and serve the country instead of running to other fields after graduation.

As an educator by profession I found the remark quite interesting to say the least. At one point I was nodding in agreement with the Minister yet again I could easily laugh it off when seated with colleagues in the teaching profession.

Normally we would all love to agree with the Minister. The need for Rwandan professionals especially as far as correcting the skills deficiency that arose after the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi cannot be overstated. New and old universities are indeed doing a great job churning out new professionals to build the country.

I also know for a fact that a good number of teachers really enjoy their profession and have no regrets for having joined it in the first place.

These teachers would really love to not only practice but also stick to their cherished profession of enriching young impressionable minds. This however can be a tough call on most teachers.

Very many teachers have decided to vote with their feet and walk away from the classroom to what many consider being greener pastures.

This silent exodus needs to be looked at closely to understand the factors behind it all.

There is nothing that best explains this exodus than the financial hardships that teachers have to deal with. In most of the developing world, modest wages await new and old teachers in relation to other professions.

These low wages have made the profession undesirable among the young who prefer to dodge the life of misery that they see their teachers enduring each day.

The minister should perhaps try visiting schools and asking students whether they wish to become teachers.

The fact that some teachers go without these same low wages for months is not breaking news at all. Teachers of Gasabo have been reported to have gone without payment for as long as nine months.

This hardly happens in many other professions. How is a teacher expected to stick to the profession where nine whole months can go without pay yet there are bills to pay?

The working conditions of most teachers are also not much to talk about. Teachers are hardly offered accommodation close to their work places and more so, those staying far from the school can only dream of transport allowances or facilitation to ease the travel burdens.

Several schools lack well stocked libraries or labs and yet the teacher is still expected to do his best to help them learn. Then you have spoilt children whose parents are so protective.

These spoilt kids are known to often abuse their teachers and in some cases beating them up. It is really tough for teachers to work in such a threatening environment.

The owners of private schools tend to exploit teachers way too much. If one is not overburdened by too many lessons then they may have to wait for donkey years to get a salary increment or even their salary coming on time.

They tend to view teachers as a desperate lot that can be hired and fired at a cheap cost.

Government efforts to address this teacher exodus should simply focus on improving on the plight of teachers. They should be offered decent salaries and these should be paid on time.

Accommodation facilities close to the school plus easy transportation can also go along way in convincing teachers to heed the minister’s call.

If this cannot be done, then teachers who often have multiple skills will easily run to other fields in order to ensure their own dignity and survival. That is how capitalism operates.

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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