19 Nov 2012

What is an Anwaru?

 It was Friday; it should have been a normal day. Alas, there is nothing like a normal day when you are a teacher. As has become the norm, I arrived at school and had a breakfast of bread and boiled egg with Ribena. I had my roasted peanuts for a mid-day snack. I engaged in petty conversations with the other teachers while waiting for my classes at the tail end of the school day. I went to the SS1 class to teach during the last period. I was drained already but I knew I had to discipline them because a good portion was not up-to-date on their notes. With my
bit of disciplining done, I only had ten minutes to teach the class. I looked out and saw scared faces with a hint of weariness from a long, hot and tasking day. I decided to leave class five minutes early to give them time to get ready for the weekend.

I had barely stepped out of class when the first scream went up. I looked back but it was not from the class I just vacated. Then I realized that the school had turned to mayhem. The students from the Junior and Senior School were screaming and running all over the compound. I thought this is isn’t right. They might have their TGIF celebrations but this certainly was excessive. Then the running became a stampede and I had to ask what was happening. With all the students running all over the place, I could not get a firm grasp on what had triggered the crazy. All I kept hearing was “Anwaru has entered o!” “What is an Anwaru?,” I asked myself. I did not know what an Anwaru was; I kept asking what was going on. Finally, a boy who seemed bored with the crazy proceedings stopped and answered me.
    “They are saying the students from Anwaru have come to beat them.”
    “Which school is Anwaru?”
“They are the ones that wear white like this. They are waiting at the gate to beat them.”
As the conversation was ending, I could see the male teachers chasing students back into their classrooms. I proceeded to help with the task of getting some relative calm into the school. When the students had been herded back into their class, I picked up my bags and went home. I did not spot any suspicious looking student in white on my way out. For that I was glad.

Just that morning, the principal had defused a potentially dangerous situation involving a parent. The parent, a retired veteran, had arrived at the school after being summoned by his child. Apparently, a teacher had caned his child. The student snuck out of the school to call her father who came to school dressed in full army uniform.  As the teachers relayed the incident in the staff-room, they all noted that the uniform had been an intimidation tactic by the man. The man had gone to the principal’s office first instead of approaching the teacher who had done the caning. The teachers were upset that the principal had apologized to the parent. Some argued that the man should be reported to his superiors. Just as the conversation was getting heated, someone noted that in another school, a parent who was an army official had fired a gun in the school compound after being annoyed by a teacher. The principal had played the part of a pacifist to ensure that there was no repeat incidence in our school’s compound.

“Teaching is a dangerous job,” I was told in my first weeks. The different incidences were relayed; from parents who come to beat up teachers to occult activities by students. Other corps members serving in different schools told me about students raping teachers. Teachers talked about the day a parent sent the police to arrest a teacher. These incidents form a long list that constitutes the danger of teaching in a relatively uneducated environment. These teachers have gotten used to these events. On some occasions, the students protect their teachers; just like they did during the strike when union members caned teachers for going to teach. The students barricaded the school and flogged the union members back.

Although Friday’s incident was not a direct threat to the teachers, it represents the general insecurity in the school. Although we come in the morning (or at alternative hours) to do our duties by the students, we never quite know what harm waits around the corner. This is one way or the other hampers the quality of service we deliver to our students. For example, although I may want to teach my students after-hours, I won’t offer that service because of insecurity. Therefore, my students are cheated because I don’t feel safe.

by Sinmi
2012 9JEducation.org work-study

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