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Teachers need to be valued, appreciated – Mwanza

‘THERE can never be a journalist, a doctor, an engineer, pilot or even a president without a teacher. Everyone passes through the hands of a teacher. There can never be any development in the country without teachers. That is why teachers need to be valued and appreciated,” says Agatha Mumba Mwanza.
At 57, Mrs Mwanza is proud of the career path she chose 34 years ago, describing it as noble, one where learning does not cease.
Mrs Mwanza says teaching is a big contribution that one makes not only to the community but country as a whole.
Born on December 11, 1959 in Petauke to William Gaston Mumba, a chef, and Felitus Mumba, a teacher, Mrs Mwanza dreamed of becoming a lawyer when she was young but changed her mind and settled for teaching as she grew older. She has not regretted her career choice.
Despite her mother being a teacher, Mrs Mwanza, who was born in a family of 13 says her choice of teaching as a profession was not influenced by her mother. When she chose teaching, her energies were focused on ensuring that she made a difference in the lives of the young learners who passed through her hands.
“I started my primary education at Tunduya Primary School in Lusaka from grades one to four, then later proceeded to Kasisi Girls Boarding School for grades five to seven. I started my secondary education at St Mary’s School in Maramba, Livingstone where I completed my grade 12,” she says.
Upon completion, Mrs Mwanza went to Mansa for the Zambia National Service (ZNS) before enrolling at the then Chipata Teachers College in 1980 for two years. After graduating in April 1982, Mrs Mwanza was posted at Tilitonse Primary School in Sinda district.
“At that time I was just about three months in my marriage. I got married on January 27, 1982 at Chasa Parish in Sinda to a fellow teacher. I was excited about being in front of a class and teaching. I was looking forward to teaching and luckily my first class was a grade four,” she says with a smile.
Mrs Mwanza taught at Tilitonse from primary school from 1982 to 1984 before moving to Chataika Primary school for a year. By 1985, her husband was transferred to Central province and as such she was transferred to Mupamapama primary school in Chisamba from 1985 to 1991.
In 1991, Mrs Mwanza says she was moved to Mwanjuni Primary School in 10 miles area in Lusaka. It was during this time that she opted to further her education by enrolling at Nkrumah Teachers Training College for a diploma in teaching.
“In 2000, as part of my training I was posted to Matero Girls Secondary School after which I was moved to Moomba Secondary School which had just been opened. I have been there since. At secondary school, I am a teacher of English and Religious Education while at primary I taught all subjects,” she says.
Mrs Mwanza who currently heads the department of languages at Moomba secondary school says she is proud that she holds a standing record for best grade 12 results as well as overall best teacher.
“I love what I do. Although I have taught at many schools throughout my career, I have had a good teaching experience. That is not to say it does not come with its own set of challenges like any other job.
Sometimes we do not have all the teaching materials or literature material that we need but things are better than they were in the past,” she says.
Mrs Mwanza who was supposed to have retired in 2014 but due to the change in retirement age says authorities currently deliver books, pencils and other learning materials to pupils, something that never used to happen in the past.
But what does it take to be teacher? According to Mrs Mwanza, anybody can join the teaching fraternity as long as they have a passion and possess some character traits which include patience, understanding, tolerance, perseverance and good judgment.
“As teachers we are role models and influencers so we need to be people of good character and moral standing because we are constantly looked to and judged by our learners, parents and communities in which we operate.
One needs to be firm but fair when dealing with children because they come from different backgrounds. You need to be disciplined and live within your means. Dressing is also very important. One needs to be mindful of what you wear in class as well as outside the classroom,” she says.
She also advises would-be-teachers to have self-respect as well as maintain high levels of integrity because the community always judges teachers’ character even outside a classroom.
“Teaching is a humble profession, it is a service. It may not have attractive remunerations like other professions but no job is without challenges. We need people to join the profession. A country cannot do without teachers and though we could do better in terms of conditions, things now are far much better than they were when she started teaching,” she says.
Mrs Mwanza says unlike in the past, teachers can now own cars and houses due to the numerous friendly loan schemes that have been introduced for them.
In congratulating other teachers who celebrated World Teachers Day, Mrs Mwanza appealed to her colleagues to continue working hard and realise that they are the drivers of the country.
This year’s World Teachers Day was commemorated under the theme, “Invest in the future; invest in teachers.”
A mother of nine; eight of which are her biological children says the joys of being a teacher are that the children also learn to appreciate the importance of education at an early.
“Among my children, I can proudly say I have produced a lecturer at the University of Zambia who is currently pursuing further studies in the United Kingdom, one is a teacher, another a law student. I also have a journalist, a second year student at UNZA and my last born who starts first year at UNZA next year. I am content,” she says with a smile.
An ardent Christian who fellowships with Divine Salvation Ministries and Church, says when she looks back at her teaching profession, she is fulfilled that not only is she making a difference in the community she is operating, her contribution has helped make a change on a national level through the many pupils who have passed through her classes.