Whereas some might shy away from pursuing teaching as a career, being a teacher was and still is what Martin Kirya, the director of studies, Nakanyonyi Girl’s School, Jinja has ever wanted. And he did not hesitate to go for the course after his A-Level.
“What attracted me to education was because I enjoyed dealing with people and communities. I love working with young people and there was no course I thought would help me do that better than education,” he asserts.
In fact Kirya recalls that he turned down an offer for a Bachelor’s of Business Administration at Uganda Christian University after A-Level despite being pushed by a relative. “It was clear that my passion lay in a teaching course,” he shares.
His education journey started at Iganga Municipal Council Primary School from where he joined Iganga Progressive Secondary School for O-Level before joining Iganga High School for A-Level.
It was after A-Level that he joined National Teachers College, Unyama for a Diploma in Secondary Education to teach History and Divinity. And because of his ambition, he later enrolled for a Bachelor’s Degree in Education at Kampala University, Jinja campus. He also holds certificate in Financial Management from Uganda Management Institute.
In 2003, he started teaching at Bweyale High School, in Kiryandongo up to 2006. In 2006 he joined Iganga Star College and in 2008 was promoted to the post of Director of Studies at the same school.
He worked as a deputy head teacher at Iganga Star College, Busagwa in Mayuge District until 2010.
The following year, he joined Iganga Dynamic Secondary School and taught there up to 2013 before joining Nakanyonyi Girls’ School in 2014. He was appointed examinations master in 2015, a position in which he served in until 2017 before being promoted to director of studies at the same school in 2018.
When asked what it is like to work with Kirya, his colleague Grace Mwesigwa, a teacher at the same school says he is a God-fearing, open-minded gentleman.
“He is a constructive teacher who wants to see someone progress. He listens even to students, which makes him one of our main counsellors at the school because students find him very easy to talk to on different issues that affect them at the school,” he says.
Kirya describes himself as a committed teacher. He further notes that as he educates and leads, he always struggles to make the subjects he teaches as easy to understand by the learner as possible.
“Firstly, I develop interest in the topic I am teaching, make sufficient research and bring out the concepts in the simplest way. I have seen results. My papers are the best-done in both O and A levels,” Kirya proudly says.
But besides teaching, Kirya is a mentor. “I like to ensure that beyond school, students have somewhere to go, and have a sense of what they are supposed to do. I emphasise both academics and hands-on skills and so, an integral part of my teaching is telling them about the future ahead. I do a lot of career guidance, both as I teach and in special sessions,” he explains.
For example, as students transition from Senior Two to Three, a session is held for them to get career guidance and the same goes for students in Senior Four and Six.
“I have conversations with my learners to hear and know their mindset and plans, and endeavour to guide them through this path. I strive to give learners the necessary mentorship and to enable them realise their potential,” says Kirya.
This is because nothing gives Kirya as much satisfaction as seeing the people he taught be successful in their endeavours; both academic and economic. “I also find fulfilment when the people I work with -both my employers and workmates appreciate my efforts,” he says.
Kirya is, however, alive to the challenges facing the teaching profession which continue to affect them. “Sometimes teachers work without payment or their payment delayed. Some move long distances from their places of residence to work. Yet, there are poor school policies which affect learning,” he says.
But even more than these, Kirya says teaching learners who are not interested in studies and are undisciplined such as those who dodge classes, make the profession difficult.
Despite this, he believes that the education system in Uganda is good though policymakers at times tend to come up with unfair policies. He gives an example of the implementation of the thematic curriculum in lower primary that puts more emphasis on documentation such as schemes of work and lesson plans at the expense of syllabus coverage and monitoring what has been taught to the learners.
“My recommendations are that as inspectors, they should go an extra mile to look at what has been taught to the learners and provide accommodation to teachers in government schools,” he concludes.