Teacher’s Mind: Buying books is the only insurance for success

The world we live in has become more capitalistic than ever. Even Russia’s capital, Moscow which in its glory days was the centre of communism, is now the home to the highest number of billionaires in the world.

The world we live in has become more capitalistic than ever. Even Russia’s capital, Moscow which in its glory days was the centre of communism, is now the home to the highest number of billionaires in the world.

It is all about survival for the fittest in what the late Mwalimu Julius Nyerere once described as a ‘man-eat-man’ society. 

The world of football has become very competitive as well. Those of you with the time and passion to follow football especially the European leagues must be aware of what I am talking about.

Players are bought at mind-boggling prices, and paid huge wages that are sometimes more than what some African leaders earn (before they dip their fingers in the national coffers).

Some critics have argued that this trend is bound to kill the game and I totally agree. In the education sphere, I have been chanced to witness something similar to what is happening with the game of football.

A teacher joins a school, teaches very well. The students score high marks in national examinations and then students, parents and fellow teachers start talking about the ‘star’ teacher that changed the fortunes of the school. 
Soon or later that teacher is approached by ‘agents’ or even the head teacher of another school. The conversation is usually brief with the head teacher offering this teacher a better package that what he/she was earning.

The heavy influence of capitalism will compel this teacher to accept the deal and move to a better paying school. Indeed there is no crime in all this save for the fact that the losing school will have to look around for a replacement immediately.

This is not so difficult as well since the teaching profession is known for churning out thousands of graduates each year in almost all countries. In other cases, teachers simply resign and go in for better paying jobs elsewhere.

The students of the school that loses a teacher will also be affected. Some may have become so used to the teaching methods of the departed teacher or simply his generosity and humility.

The head teacher who has lost a teacher also feels bad about the whole scenario. Just like the poor football teams that have been turned into academies that produce good players who are then immediately bought by the big clubs, schools face the same problem.

The school administration and even the students may come to the conclusion that their school is below standard as it cannot pay its good teachers well enough to retain them. Today’s column is aimed at providing a solution to this dilemma.

The problem should not be perceived in a fatalistic manner at all. In general the impact of such moves is felt more in a school that has good teachers but no text books or library.
A school that has no text books will expect a lot from the teacher as he will be the fountain of knowledge at that moment. Without him/her almost no learning can take place.

However a school that has invested enough resources to buy text books or better still, the construction of a fully functional library, is not likely to have grave consequences in case a teacher leaves abruptly.

This is because such a teacher cannot leave with all the text books that he was using at the school. Head teachers ought to appreciate the role played by text books in a school in reducing the over reliance on teachers.

A school may have a superb teacher but better results will be achieved when students have access to a variety of text books for self study.

Students’ confidence should be vested in the school as a whole not in individuals who are mere mortals. This theme on books will be continued next week.

Contact: ssenyonga@gmail.com

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