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Stranded teachers, chapatis and rural goat-eating parties
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|Stranded teachers, chapatis and rural goat-eating parties by Kenyans247(1): Fri 25, December, 2020 10:46am|
At the end of every year, the daily papers used to have a photograph of teachers huddled in some park or school field looking dejected and oppressed.
The caption would invariably read: “Teachers stranded after marking examinations”. Those teachers were always stranded and the word stranded was used year-after-year.
We suppose the media houses had some reporter assigned that duty year after year and we can imagine the editor telling that culprit: “Go photograph some stranded teachers and write something about them!”
It was a formal thing done without much thought to the damage it did to the profession. Those ‘stranded’ remain stranded and we shall not know why the Kenya National Examinations Council never ‘unstranded’ them. We suspect the reporters used the same photograph after every year; even when there were no teachers stuck up for not being paid.
That thing, if it ever happened, has never been repeated, and most of real memories of teachers during the festive season are of unsurpassed opulence. One may laugh in town at what we advance as a fact, but he will be the type like me that has never known rural life.
A manager of a savings co-operative society whose name I don’t care to mention summarised the issue: “During Christmas in the rural areas, the teachers in the neighbourhood were the ones that could afford to slaughter a goat or two and just have fun, eating and drinking.
We could take chapatis and rice at that time and be very happy about it but the children of the teachers ate those the whole year round and never boasted about it!”
He goes ahead and explains the smell of chapati or rice emanating from the teacher’s kitchen; the new clothes their children occasionally got; the stern and serious look on the teacher’s face; the weekly trip the butcher would take to deliver some meat to his house or in school... these are just trifles, but this manager, who probably earns much more than the teachers, is still inspired to become a teacher, even at 45: “I have never seen or heard of a teacher suffering depression...” Kenyans have suddenly woken up to the importance of these beings.
There is a sudden surge of renewed respect for teachers. Thanks to coronavirus and the mass closure of schools, parents have realised how hard it is to live and take care of their own children sans the aid of teachers.
They have seen how disruptive their own can be away from school. Now they know. It is a good thing that they possess this knowledge.
The national amnesia will catch up and they’ll forget about it all and shall need to be reminded. It is the teachers who know when the schools will open; when CATs and exams shall be done; what to test and how far the syllabus has been covered… the rest must shut up and listen to them.
It is festive time and some kid may sniff the smell of chapati in a teacher’s compound. If it inspires him to be one, that shall be a gain for the country. Let the educators enjoy their well-earned Christmas and New Year.
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