A number of Rwandans in general and teachers in particular welcomed the recent launching of a teachers’ bank. The bank comes at a time when teachers in Rwanda need something to supplement their meager salaries.
Teachers rank among the lowest paid civil servants in Rwanda, a situation that has seen many of them desert their profession earlier than expected. Yet they form one of the most important civil services in our country. The idea of starting a cooperative bank to help them in improving their lifestyles and livelihoods is superb.
Teachers in Rwanda exceed 43.000 in total and if properly mobilised, coupled by their good educational background this would make the best bank in the country. It is good for any business venture, to have organized and educated members and more particularly for a financial institution like a bank.
The teachers’ bank however, should be ready to serve to the high expectations of its membership. It would be no use to have a bank similar to other banks in the country, both in service and priorities.
“I am skeptical about the new teachers’ bank. The interest rate of 13% is not different from other banks, unless there is something special for teachers then, our situation will not be change”, observed Harelimana Jean Paul, a secondary school teacher in Musha- Eastern Region.
The priorities of the bank must be teacher centered if it is to make any difference. Let teachers for example, access soft loans, where the only security would be the work they do as teachers. It would be ridiculous, to ask a primary teacher to give a security in order to assess a loan.
Most of them own no fixed assets at all! It should instead, be the assignment of the bank staff; the bank will hire to identify working projects to help teachers and finance them.
For instance, teachers need to build their own houses, no matter how modest they would be. Giving them the chance to own houses means a lot as far as motivation is concerned- and after all, our need to keep good teachers, is motivation.
There are some countries where such banks actually helped the people working with the banks to get rich at the expense of poor teachers. You therefore find gloomy teachers at the gates of the bank waiting to pick their salaries only.
The banks never gave those soft loans but hard ones, which they had to pay back in one of the worst conditions. Such ugly scenarios are the one we must guard against with all our might. A bank that can be reflected in the general uplifting of teachers standards of living in Rwanda.
Teachers on the other hand should not sit and relax waiting for other people to do work for them. The kind of mentality in thebank adheres to various advices given to it, and shows the real cause to make a real teachers bank, it will be up to the teachers to re-think their ways.
Teachers who have stayed long in what is commonly called ‘chalk environment’ may remain reluctant to engage themselves in development projects-Simply psychological and philosophical issue that would call for the Hegelian Dialectical approach.
If the cooperative bank adheres to various advices given to it, and shows the real cause to make a real teachers bank, it will be up to the teachers to re-think their ways.
If teachers do not take the chance seriously, then we shall dedicate them a proverb- “You can take a cow to a well but you cannot force it to drink”.