Teachers are the key to the success of any education system. It is therefore important to invest in teaching – in training, in teaching materials, in management support and in professional development. We need to expand the numbers of teachers so that class sizes are reduced, and to support initiatives that will create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, especially one that includes far more women.
In our “Know Your Teacher” series, we will be profiling teachers at the forefront of providing education and training in refugee settlements in Uganda. In this Question and Answer interview, we will get to know more about our teachers, the challenges they face and how they are dealing with them.
Abunya Elias Peter, a teacher at Nyawa Primary school, Palorinya Refugee Settlement, Moyo District shares his experience.
What is your name and where do you teach?
My name is Abunya Elias Peter. I am a teacher at Nyawa Primary school.
How long have you been a teacher?
I have been a teacher for 20 years.
What do you teach?
I teach science in the P.5 class.
What led you into teaching?
It’s the profession that I chose for after O-Level. I went to college and started teaching after graduation. I began in a simple but as I kept teaching, I became more comfortable and liked it. I like it so much right now.
Also, when I was in school, I admired how teachers were handling the profession and I wanted to become like those teachers. Over the years, I have been able to upgrade and achieved what I wanted. I am very happy and comfortable being a teacher.
And how would you describe your experience so far?
My experience has been good because when I finished studies, I was employed immediately. I joined a community school in the settlement right after studies through the sponsorship of JRS. I was employed by JRS as a community teacher before I later joined Windle. I also have worked in private schools.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud of my profession because the outcome of teaching is very visible in my community. Many pupils who have passed through our hands have gone on to improve their living conditions and this is something to be proud to have contributed to. I am also proud because we are backed by Windle which has supported us with continuous professional development.
I am also proud to see the number of learners has increased from the time we started. The results from learners have also improved over the years and that makes me proud as a teacher.
And do you have any regrets about becoming a teacher?
I don’t regret so much but my only concern is that teaching is not seen as a noble job. It’s also not a job that gives you time to do a side job so we only rely on salary with no time for any other work. Teachers also normally remain poor but we are proud of the knowledge we impart to others.
What are your enjoyable moments in school?
I enjoy conducting lessons and the learners make us feel happy. The good thing is that the teachers here have team work. For example, during exam seasons, we work as a team.
What are the challenges you have faced so far in teaching?
There is little welfare support for the teachers. Sometimes we go hungry for a whole day because there is not budget for the welfare for the teachers. There is no time to go anywhere for additional business. The school development fund is also so little. We also have too many learners in one room so looking after individual needs is hard since the rooms are squeezed. We also face a communication gap since learners speak many languages from the various communities. We also have inadequate scholastic material to carry out educational lessons.
How do you address these challenges?
We tell parents and ask for their help. For example, during PTA meetings, we request parents for additional needs that are not covered by donors. Because of this, the parents in our school agreed to top up the school development fund. We normally also “cry” to the NGOs about the problems we face and see how they can support us.
If you can change one thing in education, what would it be?
I would bring water and develop the structures of the school. Up to now, we only have one permanent structure. I would also bring computers for the school. I would work on the feeding system for the pupils. I would work on the transport of the school we rely on boda bodas which is expensive.
I would also work on the teachers’ accommodation since most of the teachers have resorted to renting in the community.
What message would you like to send to other teachers in Uganda and the rest of the world?
Teaching is a good profession that models the community. It prepares the whole community and benefits the entire nation. Teaching is one of the best professions in the world. Even with the little pay, we should not shun it because the impact of teaching benefits individuals, communities and the world.
Compiled By: Joseph Waninda & Isaac Opu