I do not regret becoming a teacher, despite poor pay

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By Dorcus Murungi

Teachers complain about little pay and in fact this has discouraged a number of people from joining the profession. Not for Joviah Nyakwera. The teacher is proud of her choice of profession.
Nyakwera describes her 12-year experience in teaching as an amazing journey, which she would love to end only on retirement.
“A number of teachers are in the profession but do not like their work. I am grateful for what I am. Through teaching I have been exposed to people from different walks of life and I have been able to influence their lives positively,” she says.
Born to Yofesi Ndoleriire of Rubona Bunyangabu, Nyakwera says she was inspired to join the profession by her parents who were both teachers.
She recalls being taught while at home something she attributes her love for teaching to. “I always spare time to revise with my children. This helps me discover their strengths but also weaknesses in learning,” she says.
Nyakwera joined school in 1989 at Rubona Primary School and after completing Primary Seven, she joined Kahinju Secondary School in Fort Portal for O-Level.
While at Kahinju, she was drawn further to teaching after seeing the commitment and selfless attitude that her teachers displayed.
“My teachers were a great inspiration. Some would even sacrifice their leisure time just to give us extra lessons on hard concepts which we would not have grasped during lessons,” she says adding that this selfless attitude is what has made some teachers influential people.
In 2000, Nyakwera joined Progressive Secondary School, Wandegeya for A-Level with History, Economics, Geography and Divinity as her subject combination.
She later enrolled for a Bachelors of Arts in Education at Uganda Christian University, Mukono. This was a dream come true considering she was enrolling for a course that she had longed to pursue.
In 2004, after her graduation, Nyakwera started her teaching journey at Kaboyo Secondary School in Kabarole District. She was not employed on fulltime basis but it did not stop her from doing her job well. “I used to wake up early in the morning and be at school on time regardless of the little pay I was getting,” she recalls. In all this, her joy was seeing her students excel and move on to the next level.

Diversifying
She was at Kaboyo until 2010 when she was transferred to Kibiito Senior Secondary School to teach History and Divinity in Senior Four and Senior Six.
She wanted to diversify. And so she applied to become an examiner for Senior Four History at Uneb in 2009. This is a decision Nyakwera does not regret. She says becoming an examiner has helped her learn many ideas thus helping her get more students to pass her subject. “I have learnt how they mark at Uneb and what they consider during marking,” she notes.
In 2012, Nyakwera was transferred to Nyarukoma Secondary School in Kyenjonjo District as a teacher on government payroll. She was there for two years until the administration of Kibiito Secondary School asked for her services again.
In 2014, she returned to Kibiito Secondary School but alongside teaching, she became the senior woman. This, she says, made her realise that students have several issues that teachers need to address so that they are nurtured and attain a holistic education.
“Students have so many issues that affect their daily lives. They range from physical, social to physiological. If not addressed, it becomes hard for the students to perform well. Important to note is that as teachers, we have a big role to play in these student’s lives since we spend a lot of time with them, compared to their parents,” she explains.

Growing career
Nyakwera is now the deputy head teacher in charge of general duties at the school. Despite teaching the candidate classes, she spares time to interact with the students and through this, she finds out the major challenges that are affecting students and finds possible ways to solve them.
To get expertise on this, Nyakwera has enrolled for a Masters in Counselling Psychology at Uganda Martyrs University, Nkozi. To her, a good teacher is supposed to provide counselling and guidance to the students.
Asked about some of the challenges affecting the teaching profession, Nyakwera says the greatest is teachers who join the profession as the last option, as well as businessmen who open schools and have led to unhealthy competition among schools.
“These business people are not interested in the kind of students their school churns out. They are only interested in instant results so as to attract more numbers in their schools. This has led to high level of malpractices in schools,” she observes.
Nyakwera says for a teacher to excel in teaching, they need to be selfless, patient, hardworking and committed.
And athough the salary may not be that much, she say there is nothing as gratifying as a teacher seeing their students excelling in future.

Voices

“Nyakwera is a teacher that is very determined to get results. She is good at engaging parents so as to make sure that her students get help both at home and at school.”
Gwendolyn Kanyomozi, teacher

“She is self-driven and patient with her students. She is also a good counsellor who always engages students to make sure they are on the right track.”
Moses Rubalema, lecturer, Mountains of the Moon University

“She is strict and does not tolerate laziness. But it is her being strict that has modelled me into what I am today. She does not want to see any of her students fail.”
Jonathan Mwesige, student, Makerere University

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