Thursday, 6 October 2016

World Teachers’ Day

The 5th October is World Teacher’s Day. It is observed in many countries across the globe by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation). The theme for this year's World Teachers' Day was ‘Valuing Teachers, Improving their Status’.

Me with one of the Kapumpe pupils

Although I have been teaching since 2005, this is the first year I have celebrated World Teachers' Day. Even teaching in Zambia last year, I didn’t realise the significance and assumed that Teachers’ Day must be just another public holiday. Here there are so many public holidays such as Farmer’s Day and Heroes’ Day, this was just another day that the school was closed. Last year there was just one Zambian teacher at Kapumpe Christian Primary School. We now have several Zambian teaching staff and so this year they made sure that we discussed Teachers' Day in advance and made plans to celebrate.

One of the Kapumpe teachers

Teacher’s Day is celebrated in Zambia to recognise and appreciate the contribution that teachers make to the lives of children. As wages are not very high here, people feel it is important to acknowledge and thank staff for the work they do beyond what is expected. Pupils may bring in a gift for their teacher, for example one of the children at Kapumpe brought in a 2kg bag of sugar. Our staff kindly informed me that as Head Teacher I would be required to give awards to some of the teachers! After asking several different people about the local traditions and expectations, I found out that the gifts are usually a household item (e.g. wall clock or a fridge, depending on the budget) or money.

Cards that I received from some of the children

In Ndola and other similar sized cities, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Education gives a speech and some teachers go on a march to celebrate the day. Some schools are closed for the day and other schools close early. After discussing our options with the teachers, we opted to celebrate the day by hosting a special school assembly before the children went home early.

I organised an assembly with the help of some of the children from our Grade 3 class. Our ‘special guests’ that we welcomed at the start of our assembly were pupils dressed up as our teachers. They greeted everyone in role and the rest of the children had to guess which teacher they were. Unsurprisingly, the children enjoyed performing and ad libbing. It was very amusing to see them portray various habits and quirks of our staff! The 'actors' then joined with our real teachers to complete several challenges to test their mental maths, Bemba spelling and teamwork in front of all the other pupils.

Teachers and our 'special guests' in assembly

I was a little unsure if my plan for the assembly was culturally appropriate as this was my first Teachers' Day, however the teachers and children wholeheartedly embraced it. There was lots of fun and laughter. Everyone who took part proved what good sports they are, and it was clear to me that our teachers at Kapumpe do their best to make learning fun. This must be one of the reasons why the children love coming to school here. Many of them didn't actually want to go home early!

Children sharing their messages

During the assembly some of the children joined me in sharing words of thanks and appreciation for each of our teachers. We gave them each a gift (no fridges though), sang several songs together and prayed for the staff. Afterwards, the teachers joined in play time with the children before we sent them home early. .As teachers we continued our celebration by watching a movie and eating dinner together.

Play time for children and teachers

I am really grateful for the teachers we have at Kapumpe – both Zambian and British. They each bring their own unique skills. At home in the UK, this sort of celebration might seem a bit unnecessary or over the top, but it was lovely to have an opportunity to show staff that they are valued. I am sure Teachers’ Day boosted staff morale but also benefited the children – it encouraged them to be grateful and they also had a lot of fun in celebrating their teachers.

Meal with Kapumpe teachers

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