Every day during term time, I wake up at 4.30am. I live close to my school in the town of Kanungu, so I walk in to complete my morning preparation, mainly marking students' work and sorting out lesson plans for the day. Soon it is nearly time for assembly, so I quickly go home to shower before it starts. Every morning, and even on Monday evenings, we hold assemblies where we sing and pray.
I teach geography and religious studies to students of all ages, because classes in the school are not organised by age group but by the capability of the children. In between lessons, I either work in my office - doing paperwork or marking - or chat to teachers and parents. The students work until 1pm, when everyone has lunch. We have the same meal every day: posho, a dough-like food made of maize flour and water, and beans.
Lessons begin again at 2pm and I have the job of checking that all the teachers have reported to class. School finishes at 4pm and then there are games and cleaning, with teachers participating in both activities - I teach athletics to the students. Between 7.30pm and 9.45pm the children do their homework, and then we all pray as a group in the main hall.
I enjoy teaching immensely, particularly because the children respond so positively in class; there is very little disruption as they are so keen to learn. We monitor their progress carefully and each student has a file listing their marks.
Because there are so few secondary schools in the area, most of our students are boarders. They are separated into 13 "families": groups of about 25 people with whom they can share any problems that they are having at home or in school. It is a useful way of strengthening the bond between students and teachers.
We have a very broad syllabus to teach and we also promote vocational education. Students are taught craftsmanship as well as academic subjects so that they can earn some money when they first leave school, as it is hard to find well-paid jobs in Uganda. In fact, there is a high rate of unemployment and teachers are paid very little, which can be a problem, although the pay is slightly higher at Great Lakes High School, where I teach.
Unfortunately, I had to leave my family in the capital city, Kampala, when I chose this job and so I see them only during the holidays. The three-month terms are less of a problem for the students as they can see their parents on visiting days, which also give the teachers an opportunity to collect the fees.
I am happy in my current occupation, although I must admit that in the future I do hope for better pay, so that perhaps my family could move to Kanungu, too. Since I leave school at 10pm and get only about four hours' sleep each night, I sometimes feel that the pay is unfair. (Like most teachers, I find marking extremely tiresome, too.) But I am also fully aware that I am in a better situation than most teachers in Uganda.
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