Thursday, September 11, 2014

Confessions and frustrations of a non-grad

TNP article dated 11 Sept 2014 ' Confession of a non-grad' resonates with my experiences and feelings during my working life as a non-graduate in the Education service.

Secondary schools are manned mostly by graduates ever since I joined the service in the late 70s. The pockets of non-graduates were found in the Craft & Technology  Department (Art, Technical & Home Economics) and some in the Mother Tongue Department. In my 3 decades of experience,  I knew that the non-graduates did the same work, took on the same responsibilities and worked side by side with their graduate counterparts all the time. Yet, in terms of renumeration there was and still is a wide difference. Even a new graduate earned more than an experienced non-grad. The feeling was rotten when we compared. Chances to be promoted for a non-grad were few and remote. In the late 80s & early 90s,  I was the only non-grad HOD in my school because of an enlightened Principal. It was a frustrating time, knowing that I could be as good as a graduate colleague, yet we were not equal. Still the difference in renumeration and standing as an educator in the school remained.
It made me determined to become a graduate. There are a few foreign universities eg Strathclyde U in Scotland, Loughborough U in UK that welcome Polytechnic grads without A levels into their degree courses. However, as the sole bread winner and with a family of 3 children to feed, I could not take full time off to pursue my wish and dream. Then the opportunity came when the OUDP offered part time degree courses in SIM. I was in the first batch of non-grad teachers who took this opportunity to 'upgrade' myself. When we completed our degree course, MOE was initially hesitant in recognizing it and in placing us in the graduate scale.
The mind shift of the MoE would need a gigantic shove even when it's own minister deemed the ambitions of ASPIRE as lofty and has been encouraging them. However, it remains that the ministry wanted only graduates to man the classes primary and secondary. Now, the notion is that even a degree is not enough to pull one up the ladder. You need a Master!

Initially, just to show,  there would surely be a few promotions for the very few non-grads left in the service just to show the intent. If they can promote the more abled AEDs, then I say 'bravo' , as I knew of AEDs who were more able to manage the 'difficult' Normal classes than some graduate teachers the bread and butter of the job.
Over and above the graduates are the 'Scholars' who would be future ministry administrators. They are held in high esteem when they descend to schools to seek experience. Everyone knows that these scholars are 'white knights' whose very career path is already charted clearly regardless of whether they can manage the mundane task of handling 'difficult' classes. There was one who came to the school I taught, for 2 years or so. The P would not dare to rank her below any staff. She was not top and 'had no result to show' and yet seemed to be untouchable. Why? Isn't it a case of degree worship?

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