“A teacher is a person who helps others to acquire knowledge, competence and values”, according to Wikipedia. The definition in itself highlights the importance of a teacher within modern society. In most economies, teachers are deemed to be the most overworked and underpaid. They are often tasked with the roles of being mentors, educators and even in some ways “parents.” Teachers are often tasked with the responsibility of maintaining the status quo especially in regards to ethics towards their students. It is safe to say the task imposed on teachers supersedes those of doctors, lawyers or other careers (Do you agree?).
Teresia Kanyuga has been such an instrumental figure in the administration and smooth running of both our Haji schools. She is not only the head teacher of Safina Haji Primary School but also a key committee representative within our secondary school. She has been on a journey of great resilience and sacrifice ensuring that the normal school activities transition smoothly.
Born in 1962 into a family of seven children in Kangema Muranga, Teresia had to learn to be responsible at a very young age. Her aspirations of being a teacher were inspired by one of her teachers while in grade two. Teresia often refers to Mrs. Gachau as a mentor and also a hardworking teacher. She recalls how her teacher was steadfast in ensuring that all students grasped what they had been taught. She also involved students in most of her teaching by assigning them practical work in subjects they would often relate to. In the early 70s, she was able to join a renowned secondary school within the environs in which her brother had established a small merchant business. She later on completed her secondary education and went to college.
The mother of five has ensured she attains a balance between being a teacher and a mother to her kids. She admits that although her life had its set of challenges, she manages to offer adequate formal education to all her children. Her proudest moment yet, is that one of her sons is close to taking his university finals in English literature.
Teresia’s teaching career has been one that is admirable and full of its set of up and down moments. By the time she joined Safina Haji Primary School she had already made a name for herself within the previous institutions in which she was teaching. Her 34 years of experience was indeed what was needed in the running of Safina Haji Primary School. She admitted that she was stunned by the beautiful set up of both schools thanks to World Teacher Aid. She was also impressed by the beautiful scenery surrounding the schools, the highlight being Solai Dam, which is located adjacent to the secondary school section. Teresia is a big fan of agriculture, a skill set that aided in the enhancement of yield used in the schools feeding program. She also boasts producing the best overall student in all our World Teacher Aid schools within the primary section in the previous year. Discipline within the primary school has also improved tremendously over time, as compared to that of her predecessors’ term.
Although she had managed to ensure that the school activities ran smoothly, she encountered different sets of challenges. The proximity between the school and the main road would often pose a challenge to her. Her husband offered to drop her at work and pick her in the evening most days. She later rented a makeshift room within the environs of the school in order to spend more time with her students. This being her first experience within a community school, she mentioned that her new tasks had their own set of challenges (mainly revolving around the community values and the school). These challenges did not deter her from the goals she had set out for the school. Teresia has learned to adjust to her environment and more so involve the community on most of her decision making. This has in return created a good relationship between the school and the administration. Her hope for the school is to ensure she has achieved a mean grade B amongst all those who sit for the national examinations, before the end of her tenure in office.
Teresia admitted that her teaching techniques involved a lot of practical work that her students would relate to. She really enjoys teaching Swahili. It is her hope that she will be able to transform the perception of the community into a rather self-reliant and responsible one. “A good teacher is like a candle….it consumes itself to light the way for others.” (Mustafa Kemal Ataturk) This is a perfect mirror of what Teacher Teresia truly stands for.
Philip Muigah- WTA Field Rep