I have just finished my degree course in Education (English Language and Literature), or rather I am in the very last process, and I am so pissed with life. I am in what we call School Practice and during one of the meditations I usually have after a boring lunch, I noticed a mechanic trying to repair a generator. A colleague of mine remarked that the ‘engineer’ was making a lot of noise since he was trying his generator at school. I asked if that was really the engineer and he asked me whether it was the mechanical engineer. I am not a know-it-all but one thing I was certain is that he was nothing close to an engineer. To me, a mechanical engineer would not be dressed in overalls as were with this fellow, some old goggles, and all of him. We started discussing and later on he saw that the man he was mistaking for an engineer was nothing but a mechanic (in Africa that is the person who does the petty jobs of trying to repair a broken car, motorbike, and other mechanical stuff). We moved on to seeing that people with the most degrees are the ones who do less work (there are exceptions here though, like the medical field). What amazed us, yes, amazed, maybe dismayed us, was the fact that people strive to study so hard to do so less. It is quite ironic that I would get a Ph D. in engineering and not get a job repairing engines, if that is what they do. On the contrary, rather, I get a nice office in the corner where I have to sit all day doing a lot of nothing, maybe just giving orders, directions. Education, if you look at it in this sense, becomes quite a useless thing. That guy who climbs very long poles while repairing or constructing a bridge is not the guy with a Ph D. He is just a regular guy. What is more is that the guy who swings in his office chair all day gets the most money while that guy who risks his life all day climbing unclimbable poles gets the least (pay, benefits . . .).
It has got me thinking that if I really have to do well in my life: sit in an office all day, give orders and get bored all day, and get the most money, I really have to spend more on my education. The only thing that stops me from that is the background I come from. This leaves me with no option but to get chalk dust all day, since my profession does not allow the climbing of trees and poles.
This, however, should not make you think that I am a lazy person who wishes to get a Ph D. so he can sit all day in an office doing nothing. It beats my understanding that those who know so much do not utilise their knowledge and should therefore not be trained in anything of the sort. I also wish that those who were practical should get the more money, and vice versa. This will lead people to work harder, and to stop killing their backs all day in the office seat.
There is also a ting that has made me question life too, although I have expected no answer from any one. It is the amount some employers are willing to pay teachers in Uganda , where I am currently doing finishing my degree. In fact, Kenyan house-girls (commonly called maids in that country) are paid the equivalent of what many teachers in Uganda are paid. Ain’t life a bitch? Instead of being a teacher in a private school in Uganda, I’d rather cross the border to become a maid in Kenya. Teachers do more or less the same work as house-girls, and especially in many private schools in Uganda. You literally have to beg these assholes dressed as students to attend your lessons, or pay attention when you are teaching. This is not a reference to any school in particular but a good number of private one have the same characteristics.
Truthfully, I had better be a part-time ‘maid’ in Kenya and get double the money that some teachers in Uganda get, and it is worth it because you do not have such working conditions as you might experience in some Ugandan schools. As a matter of fact, if you part-timed in two good households, you might earn what some teachers in Uganda earn a whole term. I really feel sorry for teachers in Uganda, and I have reason to, because I know that no teacher in Kenya earns what his counterpart in Uganda earns. And yet Uganda is in the same region as Kenya, same trade blocs, but these are what we have been calling the ironies of life.