Appreciating Teachers

May 18, 2020

The lockdown has been extended for another 14 days; this means schools will not resume until June, that is, if things get better. It is a tough time for students having to stay at home and follow the curfew restrictions. Many are being caught flaunting the curfew guidelines and are sent on quarantine for 14 days at their own cost, stressing their parents who are already feeling the pressure of having the kids at home.

We have continued to engage with the students via social media for those that have access to the Internet. Those that do not have Internet access will send a message, and we will contact them afterwards, thus saving them on calling rates. The students appreciate the calls and chats on social media. We have also been in touch with the club patrons, as much as we are not able to meet, they also need moral support. With the schools shut down, the patrons are missing out on a lot. They also have to find ways to keep the students engaged by sending their tuition material via email. Everyone is so busy thinking about the students that they have forgotten about the teachers. Teachers need support and care, too; they need attention. They also have their families and children to deal with during this strange time. Too often we forget that the teachers are also prone to depression. For some of the teachers in the village, especially for those seen as heroes, there is an expectation that they know everything. Such teachers are required to be at the ready to answer questions from anxious parents who see them as the solution-makers for their problems. One teacher was telling us how a parent insisted that her son move in with the teacher until school opens. Despite the corona pandemic, this mother was not considering the risk she could be imposing on the teacher. Her son is abusing drugs, drinking alcohol, and has basically, become a nuisance to them all. The mother has taken him to the local chief, so that he can be disciplined, but the boy purchases more alcohol and drugs as soon as he is released.

The teachers are busy setting exams for the children to take online all the while realizing that their efforts will only reach a small percentage of the students, those with Internet access.  Regardless, each student will be gauged the same, the gaps notwithstanding. This is one of the reasons we need to take care of the teachers. They are generally concerned for their students and also need to be appreciated, supported, and their mental health put into consideration. Cases of discipline will most likely increase as everyone is getting frustrated by the lockdown.

We are asking the teachers to email the tuition work to us for the students sitting their final exams in December. We are printing and distributing the physical papers/hard copies to the learners within our vicinity. This seems to help remove some of the strain on the teachers and the parents and provides the students the material necessary to sit the exams.

The Valvisions girls are all home helping in their community by setting exams and study questions which the candidate classes can use. They drop the material at the local primary schools, and the students, in a controlled manner are able to pick up the work and use it to study. Most schools are focusing on the candidate classes, hoping to encourage the students to get good grades which will allow them into the universities and other institutions of higher learning.

As we watch and wait for things to settle down, no matter how long it takes, we realize the need to be mindful of both the students and the teachers. It is a critical time for all of them, and since this is not something they have experienced before, we feel it is very important that we be there for them. Counseling and guidance are also needed for the students and whatever help they can get in those regards will hopefully, help them stay positive and not give up on school. Despite the appearance that the closure of schools is an extended holiday, it is not~ the students need to take responsibility for their time with the support and help of their parents and teachers.

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