Yes! It is a calling to be a teacher

In Summary

• Majority of people across the globe who have gone through the schooling cycle are what they are because of a teacher.

Head teachers follow proceedings during a past KSSHA conference in Mombasa.
Head teachers follow proceedings during a past KSSHA conference in Mombasa.
Image: FILE

World Teachers’ Day is held annually on October 5 to commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. One recommendation is professionalism where teaching should be regarded as public service which requires of teachers’ expert knowledge and specialized skills, gained and maintained through rigorous and continuing study; it also calls for a sense of personal and corporate responsibility for the education and welfare of the pupils in their charge.

Majority of people across the globe who have gone through the schooling cycle are what they are because of a teacher. Teachers all over have been mandated with developing human beings. Young children having been introduced in the schooling system trust their teachers more than their parents. I witnessed this the other day while doing homework with my 8-year-old son in Grade 3. During this ordeal; I thought I was showing him an easier way of solving simple multiplication problems when he firmly told me; “Daddy! that is not what the teacher told us”.

Teachers are keepers of eternal flame of knowledge. They transfer knowledge which have a permanent effect to children. This effect could be permanent help or permanent damage. Teachers should know the content they are transferring to learners. Teachers should always strive to remain relevant in this digital era where we have quite a sizeable number of children interacting with technology at an early age. This calls for continuous improvement in instructional skills through regular trainings lest they encounter pupils who haveunique abilities and require a unique facilitation mode.

The 2019 theme for World Teachers Day is, Young Teachers: The future of the Profession. In Kenya, this is well showed through an initiative by Zizi Afrique and Safaricom Foundation who are implementing an accelerated time bound learning program that seeks to equip children who are left behind with competencies in reading and math. In consultation with head teachers, school and communities, the program engages trained young teachers who are not employed. These teachers must be registered with Teachers Service Commission (TSC). The program teachers are retooled on Combined Activities for Maximised Learning (CAMaL) methodology in literacy and numeracy. This include training on basic assessment using simple tools to find out the learning level of a child. The teacher moves the child from the known to the unknown, starting with the level of the child and moves them to higher levels. One tenet of CAMaL methodology is that it is full of activities and movements which aligns well with concentration span of children; while exploiting the energy they have. Working with vibrant young teachers has contributed to improved results. For example, in Tana Delta Sub-County, 23 percent of learners who at baseline assessment could not read a simple Grade 2 level story became fluent readers after only 10 days of one-hour daily interventions. This shows the dedication of these young teachers to nurture their pupils to read which is a basic for meaningful learning.

Parents hope that their children lead a decent life. This is true for teachers who joined the profession not because they were desperate for a job but because of intrinsic motivation to nurture each child and make a difference in their live. Henry Brooks Adam observed, 'Teachers affect eternity; no one can tell where their influence stops'. The influence can either be progressive or detrimental. In September 6, 2019 there was a case in one of the counties where a class six girl committed suicide after humiliation by her teacher. Any person joining the teaching profession should enjoy working with children and should do nothing morally unfit while dealing with them because it is a calling to be a teacher.

Francis Njuguna is a researcher with Zizi Afrique Foundation. For feedback, send email to [email protected]