On Friday last week, the Mayor of Kigali took the initiative to honor teachers who performed exceptionally well in the Science subjects in last year’s O level examinations.
On top of a sumptuous luncheon sponsored by the host, they were given laptops to support their teaching.
This was a commendable act that I went a long way in resuscitating the morale of teachers. I have witnessed many prize giving ceremonies that recognize students’ good performance but those recognizing teachers are as rare as a hen’s milk.
That is why this one occasion organized by the Mayor of Kigali and graced by the Minister of Education caught my attention.
The organisers of the event were cognizant of the fact that teachers are the most important factor in determining the quality of education in schools.
As a result, Governments have the responsibility to ensure that teachers perform to the best of their abilities. In addition, a number of factors that affect teachers’ performance should be taken note of.
In addition to remuneration, teachers are motivated by a range of other factors like success in the classroom, status in their communities for exercising a respected profession, training and mentoring and appropriate working conditions.
A big percentage of teachers quit their work stations because of what they term as poor working conditions.
Issues such as the number of hours teachers teach each week, the number of students in a classroom, support from administrators, availability of teaching and learning materials and clear school policies play a key role in boosting teachers’ morale.
Among strategies put forward by the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) is the consideration of non-monetary forms of support that can increase teachers’ motivation in addition to salaries, consideration of initiatives to encourage community support and the reviewing of financial control systems related to teacher payment.
Some of the non-monetary forms of motivation that have proved effective in motivating teachers include; in-service trainings to improve teachers’ skills, mentoring systems, non-cash incentives like food or housing allowances and improvement in working conditions.
One way of improving working conditions is the reduction of student to teacher ratio, improving the physical conditions under which teachers work and supplying them with all the teaching and learning materials to assist them in lesson planning and preparation.
High teacher motivation is a magic bullet for academic excellence. On the other hand, high motivation without the right qualifications and experience on the part of teachers is like singing very harmonious music to a goat.
Motivation, qualifications and experience translates to real benefits and results in the academia.