TEACHER'S MIND : Why they don’t wish to be like us

I cannot count the number of times I have highlighted the role that teachers play in society. Not just because I am one but because of the clear evidence that supports my claim. During my primary education, we were told that only God is better than a teacher because every important person owed their importance to the knowledge, attitudes and skills passed on from their teachers.

I cannot count the number of times I have highlighted the role that teachers play in society. Not just because I am one but because of the clear evidence that supports my claim.

During my primary education, we were told that only God is better than a teacher because every important person owed their importance to the knowledge, attitudes and skills passed on from their teachers.

It therefore becomes very ironic when you pose this over-asked question to any youngster, “What do you want to be in future?” A doctor, a lawyer, a businessman, a musician and so many other answers will flood your way before anyone mentions; a teacher.

Disappointingly, it’s easier to find a grey-haired young boy than one desiring to become a teacher. The most common explanation given by young learners is that teachers are poor. In other words, no sane student desires to join a profession that guarantees poverty.

Eventually, many join the profession as a last resort. Even at universities several students pursuing Degrees in Education boldly state that they do not intend to become teachers. It’s like a pilot telling his passengers that he is just flying with no intention of landing.

It’s a general assumption that competition leads to better services for the consumers and better conditions for the workers. The Education Sector is exempted from this assumption. Due to budget restraints, several governments offer teachers very low salaries.

The emergence of private schools normally should make life better for teachers; they lure teachers and provide the hope that better salaries and conditions are in place. Unfortunately, this has not actualised.

Of course a few high-end private schools offer better salaries and working conditions to the teachers; but this group is just a drop in the sea. I actually know of only five schools in Rwanda that offer teachers a better deal than the rest.

The remaining lot of private schools in this country are simply vampire institutions that strive to exploit the education situation to the core. The owners of these schools are aware of the fact that teachers are not as scarce as lawyers or doctors and so offer them ‘take-it-or-leave-it’ packages.

After putting up all the necessary structures that the education inspectors expect, the investor turns to the employees to bear the burden of their investment.

The logic is to recoup the investments from the tuition and other fees that students are required to pay to the school.
Like all other businesses, the goal of most education investors is to make profit. They  focus more on maximising profits while keeping expenditures at their lowest.

As a result many schools are crowded with very few teachers who are expected to teach for very long hours earning laughable salaries.

The average teacher in a private school typically teaches more students for longer hours and less pay than the teachers in government owned school or one of the top five private schools.

As we go about praising the ‘rich and innovative’ investors in the education sector we are blinded by the fact that the demoralised and over worked teachers are human beings too. I wonder why the teachers’ associations seem to be so silent about this loophole of exploitation.

When all is said and done, many teachers run away from their profession and join anything but teaching. They detest to be referred to as teachers.

Finally they get to understand why some students wish to become a doctor even with poor grades in Chemistry and Biology. 

ssenyonga@gmail.com

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