There is something about teaching in Uganda which has always eluded me.
Growing up in Uganda, the teachers loved their jobs and they did a great job of it too.
You see when you teach, you are shaping up future leaders so this job needs to be respected. The government of Uganda also needs to respect the teachers and pay them well.
Let me tell you about my best teachers.
Mrs. Masette taught me in P1 and P2 in Bududa Primary School. She caught me fighting with one boy one day and told me that girls do not fight. They use their brains.
Dr. Ddungu caught me in P5 in Namugongo Primary School reading a book while he was teaching. He was the English and Science teacher. He made me pay for it. Fast forward, I meet him on the day I got my scholarship and stopped him on the road in Kampala. He said “Leah, I always knew that you had potential”.
University of Toronto, my research professor told me “you will not get your degree until you learn to write”. Dr. Clement was very hard on me and he was teaching me some courses too. After graduating, he told me “I knew you had it in you”.
That is what a good teacher does. Believes in the students they teach.
Fast forward. My first born started school at age 3 (in the province of Ontario in Canada, kids start kindergarten in the year in which they turn 4yrs of age). She was dyslexic. This is a very rare condition but common enough. Her teacher Mrs. Colaco told me “they out grow it in time, just let her be. She is okay”. By grade 3 (P3), she had stopped writing backwards.
The next one started school in our current province New Brunswick at age 5 (here you cannot start school until the age you turn 5). Her first teacher Miss. Rose noticed something about her. The kid was shy, crying, quiet and it was tough because this kid was home raised with only a stint of 3 months in a daycare. Mrs. Rose wrote something on the board one time. When I went to pick Mini up, the teacher took me aside with the HM and told me they were moving her into the next class. She had yelled out DOCUMENTARY. The class had to many kids and 3 had to be moved up. What I found interesting about Miss Rose was attentive to this little person and saw good in her.
What Ugandan teachers do is great given how little resources they are working with. However some teachers have this attitude of beating the love of education out of children. All it takes is one teacher to believe in a kid and that kid will love education. All it takes is one teacher to beat the heck out of a kid and make them hate school and believe it, that kid will not do well in school. Their true potential will not have been discovered.
Please teachers, love your job. Yes, the conditions under which you work are hard but you are handling small sponge minds that soak up everything that you teach them.
There are also some teachers who choose the bright kids and make them “the teacher’s pet”. Huh! Even I would like to only pay attention to the brilliant ones. You are in the teaching business because you want to work with the ones who do not know everything. Your duty is to pick up these other kids and help them learn and love education. The future will pay you brilliantly.
Choose what you love, do it and you will never work a day in your life. Many people hate Mathematics because they did not have a teacher that taught them about the wonder of numbers. Numbers never lie.
Martha Leah Nangalama
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The writer is an IT analyst for an oil company and has taught in the past and is passionate about education. All my opinions are mine and mine alone. They do not reflect on my employer or any organisation I am affiliated with.