In a world where information flows abundantly and knowledge is accessible at our fingertips, a group of unsung heroes have dedicated their lives to shaping our minds and nurturing the seeds of literacy. On this International Literacy Day, we take some time to celebrate and appreciate the invaluable contribution of teachers around the world.

As we access a wealth of information with a few taps on a screen, it is easy to take for granted the ability to read and write. However, behind every literate individual stands a teacher who has played an indispensable role in their development. Many of us can trace some of our interests as adults to our earliest memories, which were formed in school. Stepping through the door of a classroom sparked curiosity and a sense of wonder in learning new concepts and ideas.

Nurturing Literacy from Early Childhood

Take a moment to remember your journey as a child learning to read. Don’t you have special memories with teachers who took time to patiently, although sometimes not very patiently, guide you through the complexity of language, helping you understand words, comprehend stories and kindling your desire to explore the written word?

While we may only remember a few teachers, who were exceptional and made a lasting impact on our lives, it’s critical to acknowledge that every teacher, whether in a bustling city or a remote village, is making a difference. Teachers consistently make sacrifices and invest their time, energy, and passion into moulding the minds of the next generation, even in the face of numerous challenges like limited resources and overcrowded classrooms.

Unwavering Commitment and Passion for Teaching

For instance, Ms. Samantha Mwangome, a teacher at Morningstar Primary School in Kalobeyei Settlement Scheme – Turkana County, expresses a longing for her family who are in Kilifi County.

“…….. the hard part is that I miss my family…, yes, I enjoy it here and I was welcomed well, but these are all strangers….”

Kilifi is a two-day journey from Turkana. While Samantha was excited about moving to Kalobeyei and is passionate about teaching and interacting with children, her passion does not come without a cost. A shared cost, borne by both her and her family, as she selflessly imparts knowledge and mentors children in Kalobeyei.

“I love working with children. They are so innocent and they are able to open up about their problems. As a teacher they trust you and believe in you. It makes you a role model and gives you a lot of responsibility”, says Samantha

Samantha Mwangome, teaching in class
Samantha Mwangome teaches Kiswahili to refugee learners in Kalobeyei Settlement.
Photo: Björn Udd / FCA

Samantha’s emotions resonate with the sentiments of many teachers across the country. Individuals who dedicate their time, often at the expense of their loved ones.

The Key to Empowering the Next Generation

Teachers are the key to empowering the next generation. This International Literacy Day gives us an opportunity to not only express our gratitude but to also recognize the urgent need for supporting teachers. To advocate for fair compensation, opportunities for professional development and provision of resources that empower them to excel in their roles. When teachers are empowered, they, in turn, empower their students, thus creating a positive cycle of learning and growth. These educators are indeed the backbone of our education journeys and serve as the light that illuminates our path to brighter futures.

As we celebrate International Literacy Day, we cannot forget role of teachers, the unsung heroes of literacy who have dedicated their time to nurture knowledge and wisdom. We invite you to support and partner with FCA Kenya to invest in a future where education continues to thrive and shine as a beacon of hope and progress.

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Text: Faith Inyanchi