A teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others, once stated Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, a revolutionary and founder of the Republic of Turkey. By this statement, Atatürk was alluding to the sacrifice and noble role teachers play in shaping students. A teacher’s job is complex in nature as it requires them to deal with children from diverse backgrounds and capacities. As such, teachers need constant motivation to be at their best in this challenging profession.
Isaac Ddumba, an ICT teacher at La Colombiere School, says teacher motivation contribute about 75 per cent to learner success.
He notes that parents and the other support staff also do a great job but in many cases it is the teacher that has ‘to make things happen’ in a student’s life.
“In my opinion I would like to be realistic, the best students always come from a supportive family and a motivated teacher,” he says.
Ddumba notes that it’s important to motivate all teachers much as some stakeholders tend to only reward teachers of candidate classes, forgetting that the very best students have been prepared right from nursery level.
Further, he suggests that the motivation should come constantly. He says it may not even be material or financial, but in form of team building gigs or a token of appreciation even if it is verbal.
“A person that feels appreciated delivers much more. Let’s learn to use phrases like ‘well done’, ‘good job’, ‘love your work’, ‘I appreciate what you are doing’, among others. These simple words of encouragement can yield more than the pay cheques,” Ddumba adds.
According to recent research findings published by UNESCO, motivation plays an essential role in every part of a teacher’s life, from choosing to join the profession to delivering their best in the classroom. It adds that the quality of education improves when teachers are given all the support needed, which includes their income and other incentives to encourage them remain in the field of teaching.
John Gasore, an educationist who works at Education Consultancy Bureau based in Kigali, says if a teacher feels valued, then stakeholders will not worry much when it comes to performance.
He says schools should make it a point to organise ceremonies to appreciate the best teachers, on top of giving them good salaries and other incentives.
What is required of the teachers?
As a teacher, Boniface Onyango who heads Riviera High School, believes that in order to be motivated, teachers first need to set their own goals, as well as learn from what is required for their students.
He also notes that teachers should as well learn how to reward each other for the work done and collaborate to produce their best.
“Working together as teachers can impact their motivation as well. For instance, more experienced teachers can work closely with new teachers to help them be on track just like them,” he says.
On the other hand, Onyango points out that a teacher’s motivation is not necessarily monetary. There are a myriad ways of motivating teachers such as trainings, promotions, giving awards and special recognitions.
Just like Onyango, Anastase Baboneye, a teacher at GS Gakoro in Musanze District, says organising refresher trainings is also a form of motivation for teachers.
“If the knowledge and skills gained are carried on to the classroom, it makes a difference, which I believe will lead to the excellence of students. For this reason, schools shouldn’t only focus on motivating teachers in monetary terms only,” he says.
Parents speak out
Elizabeth Mbabazi,a parent and counsellor, says although the government caters for teachers’ salaries, it’s important that schools and parents work together to ensure that the teachers deliver their best.
“For long teachers’ salaries have been a big challenge that has led many to do side jobs to sustain themselves,” she says.
Mbabazi says to keep teachers in one place, making them content with their work by supporting them financially can yield better fruits. She adds that parents should be at the forefront to support this because it’s every parents wish for their children to excel.
Joshua Musafiri, a member of school management committee at Mother Mary Complex School in Kibagabaga, Kigali, says for a teacher to be motivated, they also need to put in their best.
“Personally, I believe if a teacher works hard and their input can be seen, school administrators always find a way of motivating them. The problem, however, comes in when there is no change for years,” he says.
Musafiri adds that teachers should be driven by passion, which will help them bring out their best. “If they just want privileges all the time, it can interfere with the way they work.”
He, however, says heads of schools should do assessments and follow up on their teachers to find out their challenges, which will help them to find solutions on how to help them remain focused.
“If all teachers are followed up well, the probability of performing well even without special motivation is higher than when they are taken for granted,” he says.
Incentives from REB
Last year, Rwanda Education Board (REB) came up with new statute for teachers, with the main aim of improving their welfare. Mainly; the statute’s aim was to raise the status and credibility of teachers.
Claudine Nzitabakuze, the head of Teacher Education Management and Professionalization Department at REB, says the statute captures bonuses and promotions for teachers, something he believe is just one way of improving teachers’ welfare in general.
“This is a way of helping teachers to get motivated when carrying out their duties,” he says.
For instance, the statute states that a teacher who gets more than 80 per cent on the performance scale gets a bonus of 5 per cent increment, while a 3 per cent increment is awarded to those who score more than 70 per cent.
All this, Nzitabakuze says is on top of the salaries which are paid in good time to keep them motivated in their teaching career.
Teachers share their thoughts
Marie Angie Uwineza, student at University of Rwanda’s College of Education
Motivation is important in a teacher’s life. Parents should contribute to this by communicating and giving feedback to teachers on the progress of the child. This helps teachers to find out where there are weaknesses and provide solutions.
Solange Isaro, English teacher at Little Bears, Kicukiro
As much as we need to be motivated to do our best, we should also be at the forefront in motivating our students to work hard. We should provide students with all the needed reading materials, allow them to work together, contribute in decision making and offer rewards where necessary.
Stanley Mukasa, entrepreneurship teacher
Unsupportive staff and school administration in general can demotivate a teacher from doing their best. This makes a teacher lose morale in whatever they are doing, which impacts students negatively. Working on this is just one way of motivating teachers.
Audace Hirwa, ICT teacher
It’s important for school administrators to listen to every teacher’s concerns. They should respect them as well. This provides a conducive environment for teaching, which improves their motivation to work.