A young female teacher was giving an assignment to her Grade 6 class one day. It was a large assignment so she started writing high up on the chalkboard. Suddenly there was a giggle from one of the boys in the class.
She quickly turned and asked, "What's so funny Pat?" "Well teacher, I just saw one of your garters."
"Get out of my classroom," she yells, "I don't want to see you for three days."
The teacher turns back to the chalkboard. Realizing she had forgotten to title the assignment; she reaches to the very top of the chalkboard. Suddenly there is an even louder giggle from another male student. She quickly turns and asks, "What's so funny Billy?"
"Well miss, I just saw both of your garters." Again she yells, "Get out of my classroom!" This time the punishment is more severe, "I don't want to see you for three weeks." Embarrassed and frustrated, she drops the eraser when she turns around again. So she bends over to pick it up. This time there is a burst of laughter from another male student. She quickly turns to see Little Johnny leaving the classroom.
"Where do you think you are going?" she asks. "Well teacher, from what I just saw, my school days are over!" goes a joke highlighting the relationship between teachers and their students. The issue of discipline is one that usually takes centre stage as teachers battle to instil it within their student bodies.
Another story is told of a school teacher who injured his back and had to wear a plaster cast around the upper part of his body. It fit under his shirt and was not noticeable at all. On the first day of the term, still with the cast under his shirt, he found himself assigned to the toughest students in school.
Walking confidently into the rowdy classroom, he opened the window as wide as possible and then busied himself with desk work. When a strong breeze made his tie flap, he took the desk stapler and stapled the tie to his chest. He had no trouble with discipline that term.
All things being equal, going to school is arguably one of the best experiences in a person's life as it is the time to explore new avenues. Be it primary, secondary, high school, college or university, it is a time to mix and mingle with students from different social, political and even religious backgrounds. Making new friends, teaching each other by sharing different experiences is the order of the day and since the students will be mostly of the same age, mischief and deviance usually rears its ugly head.
During our heydays breaking school regulations, though fun, was something one could live to regret as the punishment was severe and deterrent. But, in most cases many students were found at the other side of the law and didn't mind as it gave them mileage and were in most cases treated as heroes.
During the time we went to school, most of us couldn't wait for the beginning of the term and holidays were boring as they deprived us of the “fun” we were getting at school. What surprised me is that even though many students those days were playful, they still had time for their books. This is the reason I believe that today's graduates are half backed and lack the qualities of the older generation.
What can they do when going to school is fast becoming a nightmare? There are a lot of problems associated with going to school to such an extent that if I were to be ordered to attend secondary or primary education under the current situation, I doubt if I would survive a week.
Of course, back then we didn't have cellphones. Having a computer was a rarity as even some schools did not have them. Even our principal then had no computer. I won't talk about school buses and other developments that have today, seemingly, made education easy.
But, despite the availability of these new information technologies, meant to make life easier for students, their educational journeys leave a lot to be desired. They face a barrage of problems, when they wake up early in the morning they know they have to fight their way to school: survival of the fittest becomes their way of life as they have to wrestle with kondas for them to board buses to school. Those in rural areas have to battle with the constrains of distance as in most cases they walk long distances to school, where they arrive tired.
While at school some due to shortage or nonavailability of desks and chairs find themselves sitting on the floor. Books in most cases are in short supply and their parents can't afford them. Some students are forced to spend the whole day chasing each other save for one or two class sessions conducted by the only teacher available at the school who also doubles as the headteacher. This is because these people called teachers, due to one reason or the other, are a scarce commodity in some areas.
Having been frustrated by one or all of these problems some students seek solace in deviance and find themselves with too much to handle. Some boys are expelled from school after indulging in drug abuse while girls fall by the wayside after falling pregnant. And, every time results are published, the country cry foul over poor results.
The quality of education has been deeply affected by these problems pushing the whole educational system into doldrums. A lot still needs to be done to save it from total collapse. The launching of the second phase of Secondary Education Development Programme (SEDP 11) by President Jakaya Kikwete last week, undoubtedly is a step towards the right direction.
The programme will see improved infrastructure, teaching facilities, teachers' houses being built especially in rural areas, creating good teaching environment and investing in science education among others, a move aimed at bettering the quality of education delivered in schools.
Though this is a good move and commendable, there is need for everyone tasked to make this a reality, to ensure that they diligently play their part. Yes, we have had our successes in the educational sector, but the problems crippling it are fast erasing these successes from our minds.
The war has just begun and no stones that hinder the provision of quality education to students, especially those from poor ordinary families, should remain unturned. Children are the leaders of tomorrow, goes an old age saying, so preparing for their future is important for a better tomorrow. Let's all play our different roles in making sure that our children's future is secure. God bless you.