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Salomo Mekondjo Nambinga, Informanté: Teachers as agents of change in society

Teachers as agents of change in society
by Salomo Mekondjo Nambinga, August 25, 2011

(Namibia) The role of teachers does not stop in the classroom as educators and architects of a society, but they also serve as  community activists.
Hence, they are expected to promote social change in schools and in communities in which they serve.  In this formulation, I would like to look at the roles of teachers in the fight against HIV/AIDS and poverty.

1. Health (Hiv/Aids)
The HIV scourge has long been identified as a major economic and social threat. Similarly, it should be common knowledge that only through effective education programs can both prevention and support issues be addressed to mitigate the impact of the virus. Therefore, the role of teachers in addressing Hiv/Aids is significance when it comes to the promotion of social change in schools and in communities at large.

Teachers work directly with children and community members affected with HIV/AIDS, thus they are expected to promote awareness about the virus, and for example, how it can be prevented from spreading.  As behavioral change agents, I strongly believe that teachers are expected to understand the subject of HIV/AIDS to effectively address difficult and sensitive matters such as condom use, abstinence and sexuality, with clarity and without fear.

2. Poverty
Poverty affects school children and their academic progress. Equally, it affects community members, specifically families with orphans and vulnerable children (OVC’s). It is public knowledge that some children go to school on empty stomachs, barefoot and without proper uniforms because they are poor.

To make matters worse, some children cannot afford to contribute to the School Development Fund (SDF).  Poverty in our country is real, a phenomenon exacerbated by unemployment standing at more than 51%.  Effective teaching and learning cannot take place in the presence of abjectpoverty. Poverty denies human beings the right to satisfaction of their physiological and basic needs, such as proper shelters, food and clothing. If human being’s needs are not met or satisfied, it is obvious that social change will not occur.

Poverty stricken children presents many challenges to the education system. Even a good school with committed teachers cannot fully compensate for the stress of children living in poverty. Poor housing is not a conducive environment for children to study.  The lack of resources means poor children face an uphill struggle in their studies.

Therefore, teachers can present basic agricultural lessons, specifically gardening; to produce vegetables and fruits that can be distributed to needy children and sold to teachers and community members in order   to raise funds. The money collected would help kids who are struggling to make ends meet. Schools can ask for assistance from the business community to pay SDF or buy school uniforms for OVC’s.

Schools can also ask for assistance from individual good Samaritans to donate second-hand clothes and blankets for winter. Teachers can initiate feeding programs at school (soupkitchen) to feed OVC’s. This can be done with assistance from Government and non-governmental organizations NGO’s.

However, it is not enough to beg everything for OVC’s, as they will find themselves in difficulty when they leave school on which they depend for support. Therefore, schools must be creative enough to equip learners with life long skills for survival. Teachers can establish entrepreneurship clubs at their respective schools to introduce learners to the world of business. It can help learners to come up with projects to raise funds individually or in groups for themselves. As the Chinese proverb say; “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a life time.”

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