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Frustrations of being a teacher
As a teacher for some 20 years, I must say that I am very upset about the way this Ministry of Education treats us educators in the system today. Not only are we burdened by the hurried and poorly planned Continuous Assessment Programme but are being treated with gross disrespect by the Chief Personnel Officer (CPO) during these current salary negotiations.
For two days last week the Standard Three teachers attended a CAC workshop. This meant that these classes did not have teachers. Unfortunately, I volunteered to cover for them which meant that I was stretched to the limit, having to make sure that the students were actually doing work and were well behaved.
Easier said than done because some of our children today are poorly raised by their parents. They try their best to do as little work as possible and few exhibit disruptive behaviours such as stealing, fighting and using obscene language. Last term in one school, when the Standard Five teachers were attending CAC classes for three weeks, two students got into a fight in which one broke the other’s arm.
When teachers return after their paltry training, they are not only expected to teach the aesthetics like dance, music and drama but to also give a grade on each of them. I am very pleased that these areas are to be taught but they need to be done by persons trained in these subject areas. How many teachers have done such courses in the teachers’ colleges?
Speaking of teachers’ colleges, many UTT graduates are crying out in frustration. After many years of dedication and sacrifice, their status has not been upgraded. What is going on? Why are these teachers still being designated assistant teachers after earning a degree? When will they receive the status and pay they deserve?
Which brings us to the great bane in our existence, the CPO. The salary negotiations have been going on for some two and a half to three years now. First the CPO wanted to scrap the external labour market survey by which we compare the qualifications, duties and responsibilities of various jobs in the teaching service with those in the private sector. The purpose of which is to give teachers the salary they deserve and to prevent the exodus of teachers to other countries.
How long am I supposed to live on this 2008 salary? Should I form a group and become a “community leader” so I can moonlight in the Hoop of Life programme? Should teachers burn tyres in front of schools? Should I change my name to Ish or Steve to get some recognition?
Time and space do not permit me to continue but I hope my fellow citizens understand the hardships teachers work under. I love my job and it is a joy to watch my students grow and learn. However, I can do without the inane leadership from this administration and in particular this ministry. It is a cross that may be too hard to bear.
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