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Teachers as agents of change in society

By Salomo Mekondjo Nambinga
Teachers are regarded as agents of change in any society. Their roles do not stop in the classroom, as educators and architects of a well educated nation but are community activists too. Hence, they are expected to promote social change in schools and in communities in which they serve on several issues. In this formulation, I would like to look at the roles of teachers in the fight against HIV/AIDS and poverty.

HEALTH (HIV/AIDS)

The HIV scourge has long been identified as a major economic as well as a social and personal threat. Similarly, it is a common knowledge that only through effective education programmes that address both prevention and support issues can mitigate the impact of the this virus.

Therefore, the role of teachers in addressing the issue of HIV/ AIDS is very significance when it comes to the promotion of social change in schools and in communities at large. Teachers directly work with children and community members who are infected with HIV/AIDS and/or affected by this deadly virus. Hence, teachers are expected to promote social change in schools and communities by partly doing the following when it comes to the curbing of HIV/AIDS: promote awareness about the virus, for example how it spreads and how it can be prevented from spreading. I could not stress enough that teachers are regarded as behaviour - formation and behaviour- change agents.

Hence, I strongly believe that teachers are expected to understand the subject of HIV/AIDS in order to affectively address difficult and sensitive matters such as condoms use, abstinence, and sexuality without fear and with clarity.

POVERTY

Poverty affects school children and their academic progress. It equally affects community members, specifically families where OVC hail from. It is a public knowledge that some school children come to school on empty stomachs because they have nothing to eat at home. It is also a fact that some school children come to school on bare feet and without proper school uniforms or with torn -apart school uniforms. And to make matters worse, some could not afford SDF (School Development Fund). Poverty is real in our country, a matter that is made worse by unemployment that stands at 51%. Therefore, teachers as agents change in society should have a great role to play in the fight against poverty for the betterment of children living standards as well as that of the members of their communities. Effective teaching and learning cannot take place in the presence of abject poverty. Poverty denies human beings the right to satisfaction of their physiological needs/ basic needs such as proper shelters, food and clothing. However, it is obvious that if human beings’ basic needs are not met or satisfied, social change will not happen. For example, child poverty presents many challenges to the education system. It has been found that even a good school with committed teachers cannot fully compensate for the stress that living in poverty places on a family and education system. For example, poor housing is non conducive environment for children to study. This lack of resources means poor children face an uphill struggle in their studies.

Therefore, I think that at the school level teachers can do the following: gardening to grow vegetables;

whereby the produces from the school garden can be sold to teachers as well as to the members of the community in order to rise funds. The collected money will help those kids who are struggling to make ends meets. Schools can also ask for help from business community, for example money to pay SDF or donation for buying school uniforms to help OVC at school. They can also ask for help from individual good Samaritans to donate second-hand clothes as well as beddings especially during winter time.

Moreover, teachers can initiate a feeding programme at school (soup kitchen) to feed OVC. This can be done with the help from the Government as well as asking contribution from NGOs. However, it is not enough to beg everything for OVC, since when they leave a school that supports them, they will find themselves in a difficult situation again. Hence, the school must be more creative and initiative to equip learners with life long skills.

For example, establishing entrepreneurship clubs at the school that introduce learners to the world of business. This can help learners to come up with some projects to raise funds individually or in groups for themselves. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for day ; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a life time”.

To be continued!





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