A day in the life of Wendy Mutuma

20th March 2015 at 00:00
This school director in Zambia has no time to resent her 5am start - she's too busy being a role model for her ambitious young students, many of whom must battle poverty to come to school

Waking up at 5am isn't easy, but I love my job as school director of Peas (Promoting Equality in African Schools) Kawama Secondary, so I smile and embrace the day.

As I wait for my bath to run, I make packed lunches for my husband and five children. I quickly eat some cereal but there isn't much time; I leave at 6am to get to school by 7am. Setting out any later would mean risking traffic and roadblocks.

I live in Ndola, the third largest city in Zambia. It is beautiful but extremely busy. The streets are always bustling as crowds gather along the roadside, laughing, trading and debating. The recent Zambian elections have been a hot topic of discussion - people are eager to see how the changes in administration will affect them.

Despite the economic growth Zambia has experienced in recent years, poverty is still a real issue and a burden that many students face. More than 10 per cent of our school's pupils live below the $1-a-day (66p) poverty line and almost half have jobs in the service industry to help support their families. Despite the hardships, they remain eager to learn.

Every morning I greet staff and pupils at the school gate as they arrive. I usually keep my first period free to check the school grounds and ensure that all students are in their classes by 7.30am. Then I attend to office work.

Teaching is the part of my job I enjoy the most. I love being in the classroom and seeing my students learning. I'm a business studies teacher, but I also teach English to different year groups because there is a shortage of teachers in the subject across the country.

Some children are very talkative with me in lessons and others are shy. With up to 45 students in each class, it can be challenging to meet the needs of different learners and ensure those with different levels of ability receive enough attention.

But as well as being a teacher, I love being a role model to my students, many of whom come from poor backgrounds. It is encouraging for them to see a woman and a mother in a successful leadership position. By coming to school, they show that they have high aspirations for their futures too.

During breaktimes, I'm often busy with parents or community members. Our fees are much more affordable than other schools in the area, so parents always want us to offer more places. But even our low fees are too high for some, so I spend a lot of time negotiating payment plans with parents so that they can continue to send their children to school.

When I close my office door at the end of the day, I often have mixed emotions. I feel lucky that my children are in school and I feel proud of the students and the work that we're doing at Kawama. But I feel saddened by the fact that so many children in Zambia still do not go to school.

I never let myself feel down for too long. I was born to be a teacher and although there is much work to do, we are taking the first steps to building a better and brighter future for Zambia.

Your day

Do you want to tell the world's teachers about your working day, the unique circumstances in which you teach or the brilliance of your class? If so, email chloe.darracott-cankovic@tesglobal.com

We will give your school pound;100 if your story is published.

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