‘I still enjoy teaching despite retirement’

Monday July 22 2019

George Kidega says he is writing a book that

George Kidega says he is writing a book that will create solutions to present today’s societal moral problems. The retired head teacher says teaching is a profession one does not retire from entirely. PHOTO BY Polycap Kalokwera 

By POLYCAP KALOKWERA

George Kidega has had an illustrious career in teaching that even in retirement, he still enjoys teaching. Despite talking about it with nostalgia, teaching was not the 82-year-old’s first love. His dream was to become a district data clerk. Fate in the form of passing an interview was to lead him to the profession he retired from 34 years ago.
“Teaching is a profession you cannot retire from. You will always be motivated to right wrong things happening around you. That is what I am currently doing though it may not involve the use of chalk,” Kidega says.
And so Kidega, a resident of Bugatira Village in Gulu District, says besides embarking on community development activities in his retirement, he has ventured into creative writing.
“I am retired from classroom teaching and now dedicated to teaching the society I live in and the world at large through the book I am writing,” he said.
A lot of things have gone wrong in our society such as unbecoming behaviour of children, systems and leadership that has lost focus. These and many more will be addressed in Kidega’s book.
“My books will provide answers to the outcry of the society and redirect it with guidance from a professional teacher,” he says.
Born in 1936, Kidega, a teacher of Mathematics and English, started his education journey from Gulu Primary School from 1948 to 1955. He joined Gulu High School and attained his Junior Leaving Certificate in 1957.
“I later joined Kololo High School in 1958 and left in 1959 when I passed an interview for a government scholarship for a course in education,” Kidega said.
Kidega thus joined Boro Boro Primary Teacher’s College in 1960 and attained a Grade II certificate to teach all the core four subjects of English, Science, Mathematics and Social Studies.
“During our time, a teacher would be posted to a school immediately after they graduate from the college,” he said.
The students who would enroll for the teaching course during their time would be top performers unlike today, where he says, most enroll as a last option. He adds that teachers today are not even proud of their career or motivated to help their students get a bright future by excelling academically. “Many teachers today do not want to identify themselves because they do not lead respected lives that society honours,” Kidega said. Some have chosen to put their efforts in moonlighting jobs such as riding boda bodas and only come to class as visitors,” he adds.

Achievements
A former head teacher of Purongo Hill Primary School and Pakwelo Primary School, Kidega said his greatest achievement can be traced back to 1969 when he became the head teacher.
“We never had school uniform back in our days, a student would dress in any way they liked. I introduced school uniform and built four new classrooms and teacher houses in just one year of being appointed head teacher of Purongo Hill Primary School,” he recalls.
But he does not attribute the achievements to his own might but cooperation from both teachers and parents. “Many head teachers now cannot create impact in the schools they are leading because both teachers and parents look at them as liabilities,” Kidega said.
Aside from work achievements, the 82-year-old says he was able to educate all his children and turn them into responsible people in society. In addition to his family are the many other lives he influenced as an educator during his life in school.

Hurdles
As a teacher, Kidega acknowledged that the insurgency in Uganda during the presidency of Idi Amin was his greatest setback. But in as far as the current education landscape is concerned, the retired head teacher faults universal primary and secondary education for hurting the education standards.
“The introduction of UPE and USE has done more harm than good to quality of education because it is centred on improving enrollment rather than effectiveness and efficiency,” says Kidega.
Kidega is currently the prime minister of Patiko Chiefdom. He worked as a teacher at Koch Kweyo Primary between 1964 to 1966 and later joined Purongo Hill Primary School in 1967 to 1968 where he was also appointed head teacher in 1969. He retired as a head teacher of Pakwelo Primary School in 1984 having served for 20 years in primary education.
He later became a tutor at Alero Primary Teachers’ College from 1985 to 1986 and later joined Gulu Primary Teachers’ College from 1987 to 1992.

Brief bio
Born in 1936, Kidega, a teacher of Mathematics and English, started his education journey from Gulu Primary School from 1948 to 1955. He joined Gulu High School and attained his Junior Leaving Certificate in 1957. He joined Kololo High School in 1958 and left in 1959 for Boro Boro Primary Teacher’s College in 1960 where he attained a Grade II certificate to teach all the core four subjects of English, Science, Mathematics and Social Studies. He worked as a teacher at Koch Kweyo Primary between 1964 and 1966 and later joined Purongo Hill Primary School in 1967 to 1968 where he was also appointed head teacher in 1969. He retired as a head teacher of Pakwelo Primary School in 1984 having served for 20 years in primary education. He later became a tutor at Alero Primary Teachers’ College from 1985 to 1986 and later joined Gulu Primary Teachers’ College from 1987 to 1992. Kidega is currently the prime minister of Patiko Chiefdom.

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