As a kid, I never went to a kindergarten. My first time in school was in Standard one at Mzokoto Primary School in Rumphi district, Malawi. Some time in 2008, I wrote a post in which I gave a brief review of some of the most exciting primary school teachers that made a huge impact on my academic life.
A number of my friends were surprised to see that I could vividly remember my primary school teachers. But seriously speaking, it is extremely difficult for me to forget these teachers. It feels like yesterday when I was being taught and nurtured by these wonderful men and women.
Without the great foundation that they gave me, I would not have been where I am today. In primary school, I never appreciated the value of education. It was just one of those things that we were supposed to be doing as kids. But the disciplinarians like Mr Kasambara, exciting teachers like late Mr Muyaba, motivators such as Mrs Mnyenyembe made me not to miss school and in the process I got selected for secondary education.
It was in secondary school that I really understood the importance of education. But much as I now understood the importance of education, I still needed to be taught by good teachers in order to make it to College. At Rumphi Secondary School, I had good teachers such late Mr Ngwira (Headmaster), late Mr Kayira (Mathematics), late Mr Munthali (Physical Science), Mr Banda (Biology), Mr Mtonga (Chichewa and Physical Eduation), late Mr Harawa (Biology), Mr Chilowe Mkandawire (English), Mr Chiziwa (now Dr Chiziwa) (English and History) and Mr Moyo (History),Mr Munkhondia (Geography), and many others.
At Polytechnic, I will always have fond memories of Mr Chipofya (Electronics), Mr Banda (Power and Machines), Dr Gombachika (Telecommunication), Mr Ambali (Control Systems), and several others. From my Masters degree at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, I had Prof Dawoud. Naturally, he is short tempered. But I liked him for his understanding of postgraduate research. His guidance led me to my first technical publications.
From my PhD at Tokyo Tech, I had Prof Fangyan Dong and Prof Kaoru Hirota, who were ably assisted by Ms Hoshino. Prof Hirota has a fatherly attitude and he is very accommodating. I doubt if there is any lab at a Japanese university that has a more international atmosphere than Hirota Lab.
From my presentation, you can figure out that teachers that taught me in primary school and secondary school are now much older than the ones that I met in my tertiary education. Some of those teachers that taught me when I was young passed away, leaving behind widows and orphans. Furthermore, the teachers that teach in primary schools receive the lowest salaries, followed by secondary school teachers and undergraduate lecturers in that order.
But naturally we all have vivid memories of our most recent mentors and in most cases, we forget the teachers who laid the foundation of our academic journey. It is for this reason that I would like to encourage us to, by all means, try and find out the situation of those primary school and secondary school teachers. Are they still alive? Where are they staying? How is their life? If they passed on, how are their family members doing? I know we are living in difficult times economically. But I am sure we can spare a little something from time to time for these family.
We may say there is no need to assist these teachers simply because teaching us was part of their job description. But I can assure you that if they were only doing it simply because it was their work, it was not going to be possible for them to nurture us nicely as they did and as a result, our future could have been doomed.
I am one of the people that believes that teaching is not just a job where you teach, get paid at the end of the month, and life goes on; it is a calling! So good people, let us remember to bless the families of our teachers and surely God will release His blessings upon us!