I have been a teacher for more than 15 years. And I love my job.
I moved from teaching in a public school to a private school because of course, the salary is better but not too much. I truly find teaching fulfilling. Even though I work in a private school, you know there are grades, as in private schools have grades, you can’t compare schools where students pay N100k plus per term to schools where the fees start from N200k and still, you can’t compare schools where the fees start from N400k to nothing less than N650k to schools where the fees start at that N650 to millions…so you know, private schools have grades and just as they have grades the teachers take home too are in grades.
So I moved from a school where students paid practically nothing, save their uniforms and school books and just a token as feeding fees and term fees of less than N50k in all to one where students’ fees ranged from N120k plus and above…you have an idea of where my school grade is.
Anyway, when I moved to this school, I threw myself into the job, I made friends with a few other male teachers who were doing PP as in private practice, though the school forbade teachers teaching students outside of school but these things are done. Teachers engaged in pp to augment their salaries, our salaries aren’t much. I started earning 120k and I taught three classes; Jss1-3.
So this story isn’t really about me, it’s about my colleague who taught another subject but taught the senior classes.
This colleague is kind of my senior in the sense that he taught a higher class, had been in the school for almost 10 years and had led his students to winning many awards for the school.
You know, I became friends with him because he was lively, he was always cracking jokes and from what I saw at the beginning, the students loved him both the boys and the girls; even some of the parents were always asking to see him and give him gifts for helping their children pass. The principal of course relied on him a lot.
The students, in particular, female students and even male, yes, even the boys flocked around him, it was always, “Mr. Kay, this, Mr. Kay that.”
They came to him in our staff room, they called him, even at home…I found out when he invited me to his son’s naming ceremony after I had been with the school for almost two months…
So he was that kind of teacher and for a while, I envied him.
I too wanted to be loved by my students, I wanted them to bring their issues to me to help them and after every class, I offered to give extra advice, tips on the subjects I teach; I teach English and Literature…and some of them began to call me for help…I was happy to help.
During the holidays, teachers too, go on break, as you know. Sometimes though, the principal would plan some training, sometimes, not. Anyway, during one of our midterm breaks, my colleague invited me to a club to hang out.
The club is in Ikeja.
I got there to meet my friend with one girl; you know, he was drinking and smoking and the girl looked kind of familiar. You know, inasmuch as I said, I liked having my students around, I try to give the female students a wide berth, you know?
You see, these children, the female students have crushes on their teachers, they come with flimsy excuses to be with the teacher and I get that. As a teacher, I understand this kind of thing can happen and as an adult, I try to steer them off any notion of me engaging with them in anything apart from their academics.
Some of these students flirt with their teachers, especially the young teachers. I have had female students deliberately rub their breasts on my arm, deliberately unbutton their shirts for me to see their bras as they pretend to be showing me something in their books…see, these students, some of them are just trouble but they have no idea they could be playing with fire.
So I mostly ignore them or scold them; I have a daughter, she is just 13years old, I refrain from touching female students because I have a daughter and you know, some things aren’t just right!
Am I a saint?
No, I just won’t do students, I won’t do children, that’s just for me, no matter how they throw themselves at me.
So apparently, my colleague isn’t that disciplined. The girl that I said looked familiar was a final year student who was all made up in fine clothes looking like an adult! And she didn’t come alone, there were other boys in final year and other girls, too. So apparently, the invite came from one of the students whose birthday they were celebrating at the club, my colleague, as usual, was invited and he invited me, thinking I would also like to mingle with these children.
I wasn’t myself throughout the evening.
This isn’t right.
Yes the students came on their own, probably their parents were aware, I just didn’t feel ok, with it.
We were drinking and my colleague must have been drunk when he blurted out to me he had been having sex with some of the girls in final year!
I was shocked!
“How? I mean, why?”
He told me I must have noticed how some of those girls threw themselves at him and the boys in their classes. “There are no virgins among them, so don’t worry. And since I didn’t force them, they can’t go and say I molested them.”
Omo, that was when I said, “Nah, this is not ok.”
They are too young to know what is right or wrong, we are supposed to know better and do better.
I stopped being cool with this colleague and he didn’t even seem to care, the girls were still following him and he was generally being celebrated as a star teacher.
I then began to look for ways to tell the principal about him. When I kind of tried to tell a female colleague about what I saw, she just told me to mind my business that there will be nothing I can say to make the Principal fire Mr. Kay, everyone loved him because he was efficient.
Anyway, I reported this to a friend who promised to help me alert the Principal by going as a parent who wants to bring her daughter to the school, in order to have an audience with the principal.
Do you know what happened?
The principal claimed there was no such thing happening in her school, she said Mr. Kay was a well-loved teacher and that the parent shouldn’t come and spoil her school with rumours of teachers sleeping with students.
But that week, the principal called teachers to warn that she would fire any teacher found in any sexual conduct with students. So this kind of emboldened me to approach her privately to tell her about Mr. Kay.
The woman was very sad and after some enquiries, he was found to have been having sex with these girls, about 5 of them. He was fired!
That is not the end of my story; so a colleague, I don’t know how they found out I was the one who reported Mr.Kay. They said I should contribute to helping him because his family is suffering having lost his job. They said there was no saint among us and I should have tried to talk to Mr. Kay before going to report him, that I had destroyed a good man. In fact, I should pay higher because I was the one who got him fired.
They made me feel bad for talking to the principal and now I am the guilty one.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)