Noeline Nanyondo has had an illustrious career in teaching. The 53-year-old has been teaching Literature in English and English language for 29 years. And this career started with her love for literature stemming out of the reading culture her father inculcated in her at the age of eight.
In fact when she got to secondary school, her friends found her a better discussant in their discussion groups. Perhaps this is what informed one of her friends who suggested that she should become a teacher. But she was unaware that the young Nanyondo did not pay attention to her suggestion because she was already torn between pursuing Law or business studies.
Born to the late Matia Kikanduse, who was a Grade Three teacher, Nanyondo is the sixth born of eight siblings. She started her education journey from St. Jema Primary School, Kabuwoko, Masaka District, but then her father was transferred to another school and in Primary Two she was moved.
“When my father was transferred to St. Stephen Buyisa Primary School, he took me along with him,” she says. Here Nanyondo was attending the same school with her elder sister and was being monitored most of the time.
Love for reading
There were not many schools or people with libraries or reading materials at the time.
But Nanyondo and her siblings were some of the lucky ones whose parents owned one. And this was not the only way in which they were lucky; Nanyondo was also the only child with shoes in her class.
On many occasions she was forced to take off her shoes just to fit in.
“My father had a reading room and on many occasions he would invite my siblings and I in, give each one of us a book and ask us to read for him at least a paragraph,” she recalls. Nanyondo recalls, however, that her father was teaching her how to read but with much emphasis on story books written in luganda. She notes that her father used to come home with Kizito magazines which she used to read out loud to her grandfather every evening.
She used to alternate, luganda with books written in English Language. By end of Primary Two, Nanyondo was one of the best luganda readers in her class that she even represented her school in a reading competition and emerged winner. She had mastered how to read and write in her mother tongue and says reading English was not that difficult after that.
“As I grew, my reading culture kept improving. Before I knew it, my passion for reading was high. By Primary Four I was reading novels such as Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte and Mother by Maxim Gorky,” Nanyondo says.
In 1979, Nanyondo sat for Primary Leaving Exams at Mbuye Primary School in Rakai District after which she joined Christ the King Secondary School, Kalisizo, for O-Level and Makerere High School for A-Level.
When she started Senior One, Nanyondo found teachers giving them text books which they would return to heads of departments at the end of the term. She says the intention of giving them text books was to encourage them read on their own especially in the absence of teachers.
“Back in the days teachers were few. I remember there was a time we spent a term without a Physics teacher. All we had were text books,” she says.
Literature in English was one of her most preferred subjects although Nanyondo says the syllabus has not changed much since then. The Concubine, The Burdens, Mine Boy are some of the books she read during her Senior Three and Four and A Grain of Wheat, Lord of the Flies, School for Scandal and A Man for All Seasons.
When Nanyondo joined Nkozi Teachers College, she says her greatest inspiration was from derived from Otim Rugambwa her lecturer then.
She says he was strict but a good language teacher who helped her build confidence and showed her what a great teacher looked like. She recalls Rugambwa’s statement, “to great teachers, the job is not a career but a calling”. You do not become a teacher to make money only but to make difference.
Nanyondo’s first teaching practice was at St. Henry’s College, Kitovu. She was a small girl, yet a teacher of big and tall boys, she was teased first.
They were only five female teachers in school and Nanyondo says the boys referred to them as OGs. However, the teasing did not stop her from proving her worth as teacher.
“I taught Senior Three Literature and Senior Two English for one term before joining Christ the King Secondary School, Kalisizo,” she recalls.
Unlike today where teachers move about with their CVs applying for jobs, Nanyondo says this was not the case before. “Head teachers would go to different teacher colleges requesting for teachers. Upon graduation you were assured of a job already.”
The pay teachers take home must be revised to match their workload. But then, Nanyondo says, teachers should also look elsewhere to improve their livelihoods. “The time has come when one should not rely on salary alone. Money is never enough. The only way is to find a side source of income,” she asserts.
Teaching is an incredibly rewarding job. professionally, she says, she has grown. She has been an examiner at Uneb since 2003, a teacher trainer for Rakai District and been able to play school fees for her children.
Nanyondo says teaching gives her a chance to make a difference in students’ lives far beyond classwork daily. “I inspire, support, mentor the chance to discover and share with them what I know about life. Give children a chance to learn their mother tongue before the foreign language. This will help them improve their learning skills,” she advises.
•Christ the King Kalisizo (1993- 2003)
•St. Lawrence Sonde (2003-2007)
•St. Henry’s College Kitovu (1992)
•Mt. of Olives College, Kakiri (2013-2017)
•Romasa Collage, Mukono (2013-2015)
•St. Peter’s SSS Nsambya (2003- date)