What advice would you give this cash-strapped teacher?

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Teacher (Photo credits: www.myparkingsign.com)

The other morning I was listening to a radio show and a teacher came on with a terribly sad story. She said all she could expect as a pay increase this year was a 6.5% salary adjustment, which would amount to R250 ($23) a month.

She didn’t elaborate. I think all she wanted to do was to draw people’s attention to how poorly paid teachers are. The DJ expressed his sympathies.

I wonder what will happen to this teacher who sounded as though she was in her early 30s. There is an education crisis and people like this who are in the education field trying to improve the lives of many children are not recognised for the work they do.

It’s sad to watch on the sidelines, after your children have left the education system, and see how it continues to deteriorate. Teaching has never been a well-paid job anyway but from what this woman was saying it looks as though it is another leading indicator of entropy in the educational system.

What can a teacher like this do? How can she improve her circumstances? Should she leave or stay?

You know, it’s not easy for someone in their early 30s who may have a family to support and a husband or partner struggling as well. Yes, you could say that the teacher should get another job but that’s not so easy when you’ve made teaching as your primary source of income and lifestyle work. You could say this teacher should start something on the side but with the responsibilities of a family, it’s not that easy.

Some will, however, say that we all have spare hours in the day and we can use them productively. If you take just two hours a day during the week and perhaps four hours for a Saturday and Sunday, that’s 2.25 working days/8-hour working days a week or 117 working days over a year, which amounts to 16.7 weeks a year or four months. A lot can be achieved in a four-month period. But as many people would say having a full-time job and caring for a family leaves few hours in the day.

Some teachers might just sit it out until they have enough experience and can leverage their teaching skills in the business world such as in the sales profession. Yet others may decide to retrain themselves by studying for another degree and entering another field altogether.

Many teachers have realised that their teaching skills are transferable into other areas such as corporate training. Others are aware that their skills are exportable and have gone to countries such as the Middle East to teach children for much higher remuneration. I have a cousin who has worked in the United Arab Emirates teaching maths.

Another teacher I once knew went into a small business producing educational materials for schools. This businesses thrived and last year I saw that she was continuing to make a real difference in the education system.

One former teacher who has an incredible entrepreneurial mind, came up with a computerised maths program which tutors children from grade 0 through to grade 12 maths. She has invested a lots of time and effort into her computer-based maths system.

Schoolchildren love the program as it is fun and easy to use. She has also provided the maths program to underprivileged schools and charitable organisations where children can do maths revision in after-care facilities.

The beauty about this program is that the former maths teacher has been able to package her knowledge into a program that is able to reach many more thousand children than would have been the case if she had remained a teacher.

I hope that the teacher that spoke on the radio finds eventually find something that rewards her experience and skills far better than the present education system. She needs to remember that her skills are portable and with today’s global market they may be even more valuable in foreign markets. Most valuable of all, would be to create her own learning product and system like the maths teacher did with her computer-based maths education system.

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