Brain Kiwalabye has been a teacher all his life. His students fondly call him “Master Hurry”. He is called so not only because he is time conscious but he has to be present in many schools in a day and in a week. He is a Part time teacher. He graduated in Education from Makerere University in 1983. Having taught physics and mathematics for over 25 years he has become an expert in those subjects. He is particularly good at physics for ‘A’ level. He has taught over 2000 students in his successful career as a teacher. In most of his 25 years career he has been in government pay roll. He has gone through few well known and established government schools in central Uganda.
The trend of Part time teaching largely became popular from around the year 1995. This has given him opportunity to have contact with several schools of different nature such as up-coming schools private schools and schools that are in small towns and sub-urban areas. Having well known in school circles he is sought-after physics teacher. Headmasters and owners of schools are at his door step literarily begging him to give them at least few hours a week to teach their students. While few of them are able to pay handsomely for that little time, few others negotiate an accepted term with him.
This situation keeps ‘Master Hurry’ busy throughout the week and even during week-ends. Now having tasted money and recognition, he is also willing to go an extra mile to be of ‘help’ to his clients. His weekly schedule is over packed and he keeps moving from school to school.
However good his teaching is, the schools and the students he part-times with are at his mercy. They have to make best use of the little time he is able to be with them. Often students remark… Master comes as a lightning and he vanishes in flicking of the eyes. Brighter students seem to benefit more from him than the weak and the slow learners. He seems to be more conscious of time, syllabus coverage and of course in reaching in time his next school than care and attention he can give to his students. Students are not in a position to complain and the schools are not in a position to address the issue because of the risk of losing him. Thus part time teachers create part time learners.
There are both positive and negative about the issue of part time teachers. It is a fact that the whole issue is centered on monetary benefit for both teachers and schools involved. Teachers tend to value money more than their job or their students. But if it is controlled and monitored it could be beneficial both parties. But we cannot rule out the aspect of physical and mental exhausting on the teacher involved and to an extent the students involved. These teachers have little time or no opportunity for holistic attention to students. Students tend to become part time learners under them. As they spend less time spend with other colleagues, situation such as lack of cooperation among the teaching staff, school management, less team work and lack of teaching coordination with in department and fellow subject teachers. And more unhealthy situations such as undermining of junior regular staff and school management become unable to involve them in other school activities.
On the part of the students, they tend to make uninformed evaluation on their teachers; due to lack of time they fail to build healthy relationship with their teachers and fail to pick interest in the given subjects. Learning is merely done for marks and examination sake. Students begin to complain lack of attention shown to them and inability of teachers available to them to meet their academic needs through coaching, counseling and other follow up programmes.
At the same time several positive things can be spoken about part time teaching. Students and school gets an ‘expert tutor’ in a given subject. Teachers of established schools are able to assist new and up-coming schools; otherwise they will not have teachers of that caliber. Sometimes it is even a prestigious for a school to have them.
As this teacher is well versed in the subject he needs little time for preparation and he is confident in delivering his material. As he is time bound the part time teacher utilizes well the time given to him. This arrangement gives students variety of teachers who give various teaching methods, approaches to subjects and questions. Part time teachers motivate students to read ahead and come prepared for his lessons. Through their experience and contact with several schools they promote informal standardization of teaching, syllabus coverage, learning evaluation, appraisal of fellow junior staff.
Finally coming to monetary aspect, it becomes cheap for a school to hire part time teachers. Often times it is enough to give allowances to keep them in school. A poor or developing school does not need to have economic commitments such as NSSF, PAYE and terminal benefits for them. Besides being a recognition and motivation for his expertise and experience it is also an additional income for the teacher concerned. And it is needless to say that part time teaching becomes a solution to the problem of lack of trained and experienced teachers.
At this given situation we understand that this current situation of Part Time Teaching and Part Time Learning has come to stay in Uganda at least for some years to come. Now it is the duty of the Ministry of Education and Sports and all the government stakeholders to come in terms with this issue and make clear policy in guiding this educational trend. They need to look into their salaries and their working conditions.
Secondary School students are immature and beginners in various learning methods and curriculum, they need a parent like people to accompany them on their education journey. Educational regulators of the nation should put in place clear evaluation and monitoring policies on private schools that are catering to a big percentage learners, because part time teachers are largely promoted by private schools for their own gain and a way of solving their needs. But surely a government paid teacher who is a civil servant should be at the service of their designated students/school on full time basis. Let us give our adolescent children the right educational setting that they deserve.