“Dad, my report card is on your table”, I remember saying at the end of every term and expectedly, “Okay” has always been the response. No conversation or whatsoever followed. No consequences. No


Absolute silence and I used to wonder if he even cared about my education at all. Except once a while I would hear him boast to visitors that his children were doing well in school. 

This particular case (primary 6), my mark in Mathematics was an abysmal 50%. I expected a conversation but nothing. You know why? Because with my 50% I still came first. I’m sure it was satisfactory enough.

But hell no! Not to my class 6 teacher Mr. Torvor. I remember clearly the number of lashes I received for that performance although I came first (you are not waiting for me to tell you the number of lashes, right? -of course I won’t tell you). I hope you’ve gotten my point by now. Here’s my teacher holding me up to high standards.

In his mind I could clearly read “You came first, but 50% is still not what I expected from you boy! Come let me ‘ginger’ your buttocks. Next time sit that ass down and do better”. Isn’t that what mentors do? Hold us up to high standards? Offer constructive criticism? Guide us toward a career path? Provide a safe space for difficult conversations? Be active role models? (I swear I always wanted to dress like my class 6 teacher. Shirt sharply ironed. Trouser at the navel (“pimpiniis” or what did you call it?)).

At this point, I am also aware you want to argue in favor of the parent or you are simply asking “What is the role of the parents then?”.

They are the original mentors; we can all agree. Many of them are doing well, but we can also agree that many more of them are underperforming in this role. My case throughout my education period can be seen in several homes. The spotlight then falls on the teacher and teachers cannot afford to heap more coal into this already blazing fire.

Apart from their peers, students spend most of their formative moments at the feet of the teacher. Learning from them and admiring them. From class hours to extra classes to vacation classes. Teachers become the highest stakeholder of student development from my point of view. All the time is spent with the teacher and the focus should and must not be on only classroom instruction but character formation and student development.

Many students come from home with deflated self-confidence. Some parents punch holes in the self-worth of their children. “You are a big fool. You are good for nothing. I regret the day I birthed you”-Oh you have never heard a parent insult a child like that? Come to my village. I’m not snitching on my village though. How about their peers teasing them about their heads being as empty as coconut?

I still don’t understand this insult though. Coconut has fleshy nutritious meat-let’s not even talk about the coconut water. Yet, we would be so pained when we are called coconut heads. Now I know better.

Ashley Armstrong at writes: “It does not matter how hard we push, the incentives we provide or the consequences we give them; what they need is for someone to care about them and their personal well-being.

This does not mean that as educators we have to spend our day doing social work. It means that it is important that we take the time to recognize and take a personal interest in students who may be experiencing difficult situations or unhealthy relationships, and who might benefit from having a positive role model who believes in them and encourages them to succeed, not only at school but in life”.

Cheers to our wonderful teachers. We can do more. We can be more.

Written By: Apeku Osborn (SUGN Volunteer Writer)




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