Teachers have nothing much to put on the table. They have nothing to brag about. They live from hand to mouth. They survive on Mwalimu Sacco loans. Loans are the air they breathe. They have nothing much to show in terms of what they have acquired as compared to their doctor counter parts, politicians etc. They have a size-able piece of land bought through the aforementioned loans that they are still paying for 10 years down the line. Their children go to school thanks to these loans. But why not invest, one will wonder loudly. Investing on businesses will be at the expense of your child. Those who try investing elsewhere do not survive this noble calling. It is either you are fully in or fully out. No watermelon business.
They have no holiday trips or weekend getaways. No team buildings or luxurious offsite meetings. No off days. No sitting allowance, no bonuses, no nothing. Their clothes are really simple and cheap.Well except teachers of English who always feel superior. The females especially. And the male ones thinking every other female species is after them. They even use cologne, unlike their Geography or Physics counterparts. Many who wear expensive clothes have rich husbands or have a master’s. Are you surprised they have a master’s and still teach?
When an opportunity arises to get a cent, they pounce on it desperately. Like when KNUT elections are about to take place and the aspirants come to woe them for votes and donate sh.2000 to an entire staff. The teachers will be blown away by this generous act. Probably, each will get 50 bob and it will be life changing. Or the 200 bob allowance when they take students for outings. Or on Parents’ day. They deeply engage the parents and promise to watch over their children. The teacher frankly tells the parent how bad you have become, that you are dropping because of bad company. African parents want to hear such and know that the teacher is keen and does not cover up, thus will give him a handshake of sh.500 to encourage the teacher. That will go a long way.
They cannot go out clubbing. You cannot. You will bump into your students and they will all lose respect for you. They will think it is okay to drink and go clubbing at their age. Your life literally is under scrutiny. You get so used to be uptight till it becomes your nature. One goes to class and emerges soaked with chalk dust but they don’t give a hoot about it. Many will be conservatives.The dress code. Young teachers fresh from campus face a serious crisis of dress code but eventually realize this is TEACHING not a fashion show. Even make-up. How will you convince the form 2 girls not to use lipstick when your lips look like they you kissed a ripe tomato? Students imitate everything their teachers do. They think teachers are always right. Well, aren’t they? Let’s drink to that, teachers! Oops of course behind closed doors.
Instead of staying at home over the weekend, they will opt to go to school to the disdain of the students. How can one stay at home yet there are adolescents roaming the school? What if those truants cause chaos in school? What if, what if, what if… Teachers are the biggest alarmists.
Instead of sitting down and enjoy the 8 pm soap, they are busy with school work. They are marking some books, some extra work from some nagging student, looking for teaching aids for the next lesson, thinking about that needy student. In fact, teachers really have to use their money to settle so many students. They get tired of seeing the student go home due to lack of this and that and when they do their small shopping at the end of the month, they have to do it for some of their students too.
Even ring tones. You have to use the annoying ones from phone providers, like by the river of Babylon. Else how will you contain the excited class when your phone goes off with one of Konshens’ and J Capri’s pull up to me bumper or Samantha’s tight skirt? The class will literally break into a dance, the song and start shuffling uncontrollably. You wouldn’t want to be that cool teacher in school. Trust me. Those students will even think it is okay to speak to you in sheng or Swanglish and shamelessly tell you “Aiii madam acha za ovyo”or“boss lenga storo.”
Teachers know nothing called privacy, personal space when it comes to handling their students and children alike. They are nosy. They break into your room any time and ransack it. You wonder do these people have sensors on their heads? In the same spirit, they raid dorms, classes and all facilities around the school and always find what they were suspecting. They can easily tell that your child is being misdirected by some boy/girl. Thus, severely warn the boy/girl or beat the hell out of them. In severe cases, they simply walk to the school housing the culprit and inform their other colleagues who deal with him without mercy. Case solved.
You are role models. Even with that one pair of shoe. Or that one handbag. The students still admire them. Of course they gossip and make fun of everything their teachers have. Their probox, their blazers with slits, their clothes, their hairdos, their spray, their accent… everything. But teachers are not offended. Those are non-issues. The only thing that will annoy them is failing to do their assignment or being rude to them.
Then there is that one parent that makes the school come to a standstill. Their child being the dumbest in school and the richest. They park their machine and head to the principal’s office demanding for answers to their child’s dismal performance. Imagine a parent so arrogant and teachers have to ignore this and still treat their child right. Oh dear teachers, aren’t you angels?
When schools close, they can’t help but worry. Will their parents be responsible enough? Will they supervise them? Will they monitor their movements? Will they ensure they read? Teachers go crazy imagining their students left alone to face the world free-spirited. It goes without saying that when they spot you misbehaving during school holidays, they will carry forward the punishment and deal with you accordingly when schools open. Teachers always feel all children around them are their responsibility. When they spot random children fighting, they will quickly intervene and possibly pull an ear or land a slap accidentally. Or when they see an unjust conductor harassing a passenger, unlike many “civilized” people, will yell and make so much noise about it, strongly condemning him. They damn don’t care what everyone will think.Even during strikes, their stomachs burn with fear. Not of losing their jobs, but of what the students might do in their absence. Thus, they will still hover around their schools if the strike happened when they were in session. When strikes happen, you see them dancing on the streets and watch with spite at their immaturity. What immaturity? That is just what happens during games time in schools or during drama rehearsals. Leading by example.
But why are they so content with life? Why do they find joy in just drinking their tea or simple lunch provided by the school? Why the gratification when they have negative account balance? Why are they so peaceful and live fulfilling lives? Because to them, when that students passes their exam and becomes a responsible person, their life is complete. When that rude student reforms and excels in life, the joy can’t be explained. Because when the students who came in uncultured, leave the school better humans, the teachers jump with joy. That is why even with their meager pay and a mountain of responsibilities and a million loan deductions, will still think life has been so fair to them. Just by being in the staffroom and laughing, gossiping and whining, that, to them, is very fulfilling. And looking at the eyes of their students who look up to them is the drive that keeps them hopeful.
Teachers, the bell has gone already! Finish your tea and do what you do best; taking care of our children!