A day in the life of Gladys Bosire

Despite the daily struggle of life in Nairobi's largest slum, this teacher of English is sustained by her belief that education and inspiration can help her students to escape

I am a teacher at the Red Rose School in Nairobi, Kenya. The school is located in Kibera, which is the largest urban slum in Africa - it has a population of between 500,000 and 1 million, the majority of whom live on close to $1.25 (75p) a day.

Like many of my students, I live deep within the slum because trying to rent in the other suburbs of Nairobi is too costly. But most of Kenya's top academics and politicians were born and bred in Kibera, which shows the potential that lies within this part of the city.

I wake up just before my alarm goes off at 5.30am and head to the kitchen to prepare breakfast. Later, I wake up my two siblings and after breakfast we leave the house and head out to a new day. I consider myself lucky as they are always here to support me.

I usually arrive at the school compound just before 7am, ready for morning classes. I arrange the books I will use that day into the right order and wait for my pupils to arrive; during the rainy season most of them come in late.

Red Rose has a strong group of 14 teachers who are in charge of classes all the way from early childhood education to the 15-year-olds in the 8th grade.

As an English teacher I face a lot of challenges, especially when trying to get my students to read aloud: most of them do not have textbooks. In normal circumstances, I will choose one or two pupils to read the passage as the rest of the class listens. Acquainting my students with English vocabulary is also a challenge, but I am determined to make them understand it.

Each class has between 20 and 24 pupils, and in some we have students from the same families learning side by side. A lot of the children struggle to concentrate because of the problems they face at home. Most of their parents are not supportive of their schooling. Some families are illiterate and do not cooperate with the teachers - they do not see the need for education. But I encourage students to work hard as their futures lie in their own hands.

I try to build self-esteem in my classes by forming peer-teaching sessions in which students discuss different topics. This enables them to be confident in expressing their ideas on all sorts of subjects. When classes are over, I spend some time marking and preparing for the next day's lessons.

Being the first-born in my family, I barely have time for myself. I have learned to cope with my busy schedule, however, as it means that my siblings can have food, clothing and other basic requirements.

It is not easy being a teacher but I cannot imagine doing anything else. At the end of my day I am happy because I am helping to shape the future of these children. They have been brought up in the slum but they should not have to live in one for ever. It would please me so much to find out in the years to come that my students are graduates and have decent jobs.

Your day

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