Meet Sajida Mweemba, a 26 year old teacher from Kinnertone Community School. Sajida is from the town of Kalomo, southern Zambia, but during the week, she lives in her school’s office in Kinnertone with her son, 8 year-old Colin, and daughter Maluba, who is six. After long weeks at school, Sajida enjoys coming home to Kalomo to spend weekends with her husband.
Sajida began her teaching career as soon as she finished Grade 12 at school; she obtained such good school results that upon graduation four years ago, she was offered a teaching post at a private school. After two years of teaching in the private sector, Sajida was determined to obtain a formal teaching qualification. She was accepted onto a teaching course, but was only able to pay for one term at the college before running out of funds to support herself, and was sadly forced to drop out. Without a teaching certificate, Sajida was unable to become a government teacher, but her local district education authorities saw her potential and placed her at a community school instead – Kinnertone Community School, where she has now been working since 2013.
In a stroke of serendipitous timing, at that time, African Revival was looking to support bright, untrained community teachers through teacher training, and we happened to meet Sajida…fast forward 18 months, and Sajida has almost finished her teaching course at Charles Lwenga Teacher Training College! Sajida enjoys her job and firmly believes in the value of education: “I like to be a teacher because I like seeing children learn, and I also enjoy being with my students. Education is important because it changes the behaviour of the people in the community. You find that in the community there are people who [are] educated, and it is good for them to mix with those who aren’t educated, because you can develop and teach one another.”
Sajida currently teaches Grade 3, and she tells us that her 18 pupils are doing very well: “my class are doing very fine; they are children who like reading”. In fact, Sajida has high hopes for her enthusiastic readers: “I will be happy if I can see that the children I have taught are developing the country, like if they are becoming the teachers, nurses, and other valuable jobs.” It looks like Sajida’s dreams for her pupils could well come true as she told us that her pupils aspire to follow in her footsteps: “there are some children who like to be with me – they even imitate how I talk and say things like “I want to be a teacher like you, Madame!”.
It is heart-warming moments like these which keep Sajida motivated, as being a community teacher can be very difficult: “At community schools, you find that they don’t support you financially. But we try by all means. Sometimes, it can be difficult trying to get parents to come to school so that we can talk together about how to best support their child, and help with any difficulties they have. But sometimes don’t come to meetings to help us solve these problems. Also, it is sad because sometimes children stay absent from school for a long time.” Although these obstacles can be difficult to overcome, through her training, Sajida is learning how to effectively communicate with parents, so that they can work together for the good for the children.
Sajida has been excelling in her teacher training so far: “I have enjoyed this training because from the time I started teaching, I had that hope that I would complete the course without failing, and I am happy because when we sat exams a few months ago, I passed and I am still here and I know that I will pass.” We are delighted to have been able to offer Sajida the opportunity to obtain a formal teaching qualification, and we are sure she is going to smash her final exams in a few months time!