By Dominic Hamooba Kamangu
Before I go into the heart of this article, let me state from the onset that this is just my opinion as Dominic Hamooba Kamangu thus it is open to correction and debate.
It is an open secret that teaching as a profession is not as prestigious when compared with other professions. However, can this be the reason why most teachers are swimming in the bondages of self-pity and lack of self-esteem. I think the answer for this question is definitely NO! Then why do most teachers live their lives as destitute, even if they are working or when they retire. Having been in the staffroom for one year as a teacher the following has been my observation from my association with my fellow teachers of course not just from my lovely school Jasmine but with teachers as a whole.
Most teachers suffer from the problem called SDS. Many will wonder and really ask what disease is SDS. For my comrades who don’t know SDS, this is an acronym for Salary Dependence Syndrome. Majority of teachers have become so dependent on the salary that the only talk we hear in the staffrooms is when is the next increment, when is DIDACC due and the like. This attitude has enslaved most of us teachers such that we live our lives Hand to Month (HTM) syndrome which is again another big problem. This is a problem in that we are normally left with no income to invest or save. Some teachers have argued out this point that the salaries for teachers are too little, but the counter argument to these people is that government pays us a lot of time for us to be innovate and plough into our entrepreneurial skills. According to Cambridge dictionary, an entrepreneur is someone who starts their own business, especially when this involves seeing a new opportunity. I believe it’s high time we start walking this road of entrepreneurship and stop these habits of SDS and HTM. Staffrooms can make better forums where we can share business ideas and stop wasting time on gossip.
Another big problem that is killing us as teachers are NKONGOLE- AMA loans. Teachers are the ever faithful customers for lending institutions such as Bayport, Blue Finance, banks and micro finance institutions. These days even the shylocks in our ‘compounds’ always wait for us to knock on their doors for KALOBA. A large part of teachers get loans to use on liabilities and not on assets. Most of us we get loans for consumption not investment. We get loans to pay other loans. We buy luxurious cars for ourselves, the ones that we even end up parking at our door steps because TWALIPYA, and we don’t have money for servicing and fuel. Please get me right here, am not saying loans are bad. Loans are good if they are invested thus you will not be caught in the vicious cycle of paying them back with stress because the loan will back itself. For each loan we get, let us have an investing plan for it so that when time to pay comes we won’t be crying that the banks are getting half of our salaries. Worse we still bother the government because the pay slip can’t “breath." Let us learn to borrow for appropriate reasons and at a right time. Let us not borrow just because our workmate has done so. We should never act on impulse. Remember it is relatively easy to get a loan but the difficulty thing is to administer it properly. There is usually a tendency to feel ‘power’ once money is in our hands and we start squandering it. Like my lovely sister always says, “THE REAL CHARACTER OF A MAN COMES OUT WHEN HE HAS MONEY”. So always establish real purpose for getting the loan and stick to it. Allow me to end here on loans because my next article will be on this lengthy subject.
Most of us teachers are bad planners who, in reality are supposed to be the total opposite. I know some people disagree with me here. Even so, a good practical example is that most of us write lesson plans after teaching a lesson. Hope you get my argument. The disastrous part is that this extends into our everyday life. However, life doesn’t work like that. It demands that we plan for tomorrow today. Let’s plan for life after the service now not a year before retiring is when we what to become farmers. When we don’t even know how a hoe looks like. Let us live with the spirit of entrepreneurship side by side. Remember failing to plan is planning to fail. Always put the plans on paper and refer to them.
A large percentage of teachers suffer from self-pity. Self-pity may be defined as a psychological state of mind of an individual in perceived adverse situations who has not accepted the situation and does not have confidence nor ability to cope with it. It is characterised by a person’s belief that he or she is the victim of events. It’s funny that most teachers even me include do feel we were not meant to be teachers. In fact this is common among us that come from The University of Zambia; we usually have a negative attitude towards work giving an excuse that teaching is but a stepping stone for us. Let’s learn to appreciate our work and have a positive working culture. As matter of fact, the so called stepping stone has become a rock for most of us so the earlier we change our mind-set the better. And to the old-timers in the service with my due respect please change your mind–set and have some self-esteem. Yes it’s possible for you to hold your heads high. So stop burying yourselves in the sand. Lastly, in this part one of ‘WHY MOST TEACHERS ARE DESTITUTES’ allow me say let’s stop the PHD syndrome (Pull He/Her Down). Let’s us embrace a bracket of cooperation and not competition. After all, we all have a common goal TO EDUCATE OUR FUTURE.
Watch out for part 2
For comments and suggestions: