A sad teacher appreciation history: Sakina Daudi

Who was Sakina Daudi
Sakina came from the Mangochi District, in the south of the country along Lake Malawi. It is a rural and arid area with little arable land and is amongst the poorest districts of the country. When Sakina was young, her parents moved to the capital, Lilongwe. Sakina was the eldest of seven children. After completing secondary school, she attended the teacher training college and started working at Ngwenya Primary School in Lilongwe. It is a large school, officially attended by over 3200 pupils.

A sad teacher appreciation history: Sakina DaudiLike most of her colleagues at Ngwenya Primary School, Sakina taught in the open air. No roof means no protection against the scorching sun and torrential rain. She taught over 60 pupils, all of them seated on a slab of rock or on the dusty floor which turns into mud during the rainy season. A blackboard is almost all she had as classroom material. A blackboard and some chalk. If books were available, they had to be shared among 5 or 6 pupils. All classes vary between 60 and 120 pupils.

Sakina made about 5,000 kwachas per month, which amounts to around 45 USD. Even in Malawi, this is not the kind of salary that can attract young people to the profession. But similar to many other developing countries, many apply for a job in the teaching profession due to the high unemployment rate. For many young people, education is less a career than a way to escape extreme poverty.

Despite the poor working conditions and the meagre salary, Sakina Daudi was motivated and dedicated.

Sakina got married and gave birth to two sons. The elder, Issa, is now five years old. The second child died after 7 months. Then, Sakina and her husband got divorced. He worked as a driver and mechanic, but has since recent months fallen ill himself. After her death, he tries to take care of their son on weekdays. During the weekends, Sakina's sister Marianne Daudi takes care of young Issa, in addition to her five younger brothers and sisters. Her parents died two years ago, both of them were in their late forties.

After her death, the 60 children of Sakina's class were divided among the other classes, thus increasing the already large number of pupils for the other teachers. This is standard practice in Malawi. "For the last three years, despite the death of more than 1000 teachers per year, the public school system has not recruited newly trained teachers," explained Dorothy Khonje from the Ministry of Education, "due to lack of funds."

"Wanted: Quality Teachers to be Recruited and Retained" is the slogan for World Teachers' Day 2004. Sakina Daudi from the small central African country of Malawi can be seen all over the world in 2004, but did not live to see World Teachers' Day 2004 herself. She died from AIDS, anonymous, like thousands of her colleagues in southern Africa and all other regions worldwide.

Her story reinforces the need for real teacher appreciation and to continue the HIV/AIDS prevention programmes. Sakina Daudi followed the training. She knew she had AIDS but she used the knowledge which she had acquired to transfer to her students so that they would not suffer the same fate as she did.

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