My plan to make money from the parents, sponsors
Like all parents across the country, Mwisho wa Lami parents have been complaining for the last two years about short school holidays and frequent closures and (re)opening of schools.
“The schools are either opening or closing,” complained Alphayo last July, adding that the students did not rest well enough.
“What nonsense is that? Even before the children settle in school, they are back at home,” added Nyayo.
“We pay a lot of money for the children to be in school,” added Nyayo. “Yet we are not given time to look for the money to pay. And the students do not get enough time to rest. No sooner do they close than they open again.”
You would think Nyayo and Alphayo were paying millions for school fees.
“We, teachers, are in the same boat,” I told them. “No sooner do we close than we are opening again,” I said. “We do not also get time to rest, especially once you consider that we have to be in school a few days before opening and a few days after they close.”
“We, too, are humans, and we also need rest,” added Madam Lena.
So, when we were closing the term that just ended, and knowing how long the holidays would be, we invited the parents to school. As you would expect, there were more grandparents than parents attending, and more women than men. In fact, there were only two male attendees: Alphayo and Nyayo.
“I want to thank you parents for the support you have given us and your boys and girls, without which we would not be here today,” started Sella, after the meeting had been opened with a word of prayer.
“These coming holidays are very long,” said Mrs Atika. “We have called you here to let you know that you need to be ready to host your children for that long and have activities for them over the period.”
Nyayo and Alphayo asked to be told when the students will return.
“We will open on January 23, next year,” Mrs Atika answered.
“What?” exclaimed Nyayo. “Why are you closing school forever?”
“This is so wrong, Mwalimu,” said Alphayo. “We cannot allow that. What will you teachers be doing during that time? That is almost a quarter of a year!”
“We can only blame it on corona for this situation,” I said. “You all know how corona disrupted the school programme. Thankfully, next year we will revert to the normal programme.”
“We hear you, Mwalimu,” said Alphayo, adding that as teachers, we needed to find a way of keeping the young ones busy.
“Hii mizigo hatuwezani nayo miezi mbili. Hata chakula hatuna. Hawa wanakula kama siafu,” he said.
“Thank you, Mzee Alphayo,” I said politely. “But I wish to let everyone know that these young ones need to be kept busy, and it is not the responsibility of teachers to do that.”
I went on to tell him that teachers will be very busy also, marking national examinations and spending time with our loved ones.
“I know that, Mwalimu,” he said. “But you also must take interest and support the kids. It is in your interest to do that because if you do not do that, you will receive very different people next January.”
“Kwani these parents do not like their own children?” Asked Sella after we had dismissed children and their parents. “I thought any sane person would be asking to have more time with their children.’”
“You may be right, Sella,” I said. “But for people like Nyayo and Alphayo, we would rather find something to do with their children, than leave them with them.”
She asked me why.
“Alphayo and Nyayo are forever at Hitler’s, what do you think he is going to teach the young ones? Drinking or what?” I asked
That evening when I went to Hitler’s, I was confronted by the parents who were here for the usual evening classes.
“I know we complained that the last government was not giving the children enough time to rest,” said Hitler who had joined the conversation. “But this government is crazy. How do you close schools for over two months? What are they smoking?”
“This plan was always there,” I said. “There are many activities ongoing: KCSE exams, marking of KCPE and KCSE as well Grade 6 exams.”
I went on: “Plus, we will use this time to prepare for the next class of CBC students. It is not decided if we will have junior secondary or senior primary, so we need some time to address and sort that issue.” It was not Alphayo who complained. Others like Rasto and Tito also joined, saying that we could not abandon them. That night, as I slept, a great idea came to my mind. Initially I thought about opening a tuition centre, but being not very sure about the new governments, I decided to go slow on the matter. This government has not pronounced itself fully on the position of holiday tuition, so I have no idea whether it is legal or not.
What I knew was possible was to come up with many activities over the long holiday. All the way from a day care for young ones; some sports activities and competitions; drama; and guidance, mentoring and counselling.
I discussed the idea with Tito, the former proprietor of Busy Bee Academy that collapsed two years ago during Covid-19.“That is a great idea,” he said, adding that he was ready and willing to partner with me and make it a reality. “The Mwisho wa Lami people are not good payers but if we package it well, I am sure we will be able to keep the children busy while making money along the way.”
I also invited Sella who was very ready and willing to participate. She said she would train kids on volleyball, leg ball and guidance and counselling.
Sella also proposed that we can get sponsors for the different events happening — from politicians to organisations.
We agreed to let the students rest for one or two weeks after which we would launch the service. This holiday may be long, but I see myself making quite some money!
In the meantime, I am looking for organisations or people who can sponsor the above activities. Can you?