Teacher with a big heart out to en­sure pas­toral­ists go to school


Mr Ab­dikadir Is­mail, who has been a teacher for the past 20 years, is a happy man. He is proud that through his work, he has se­cured the fu­ture of hun­dreds of stu­dents, es­pe­cially from pas­toral­ist and no­madic com­mu­ni­ties.

Mr Is­mail, 46, was among the top 50 fi­nal­ists of the Global Teacher Prize dur­ing this year's com­pe­ti­tion.

De­spite the fact that he did not win the Sh100 mil­lion prize money, he is con­tented that at least his ef­forts were recog­nised glob­ally.

When he was short­listed for the award in De­cem­ber 2017, one of the con­sid­er­a­tions the Varkey Foun­da­tion made was his pas­sion for the use of tech­nol­ogy in teach­ing. Be­cause of lack of re­sources and enough teach­ers, Mr Is­mail would record prac­ti­cal les­sons and use the recorded videos and au­dios to teach his stu­dents in the re­mote Mar­alal, Sam­buru County.

But the Kiswahili and his­tory teacher said the recog­ni­tion did not come from just class les­sons, he also gives life skills to stu­dents.

“There are so many things that are not in the cur­ricu­lum. I teach them life skills so as to help them live bet­ter lives,” he said, and added that he is a ‘vol­un­teer' teacher in this kind of coach­ing. This is de­spite the fact that he is an em­ployee of the Teacher's Ser­vice Com­mis­sion (TSC).

“It is not about the money but the chil­dren. I have vol­un­teered in se­cur­ing their fu­ture and con­se­quently my fu­ture,” said the Mwangaza Mus­lim Mixed Day School prin­ci­pal.

Some of the things he teaches in­clude en­trepreneur­ship, re­la­tion­ships, use of so­cial me­dia, the sav­ing cul­ture, and how to in­ter­act with each other and the com­mu­nity.

His pas­sion started more than 20 years ago. When he grad­u­ated from Keny­atta Univer­sity in 1996, he de­cided to go back to Baragoi Sec­ondary School, where he schooled be­tween 1987 and 1990, to teach.

“At that time there was in­se­cu­rity, teach­ers had run away and there was no one to teach Kiswahili and his­tory. Peo­ple dis­cour­aged me, es­pe­cially be­cause of cat­tle rustling. But in my mind I knew that I had to se­cure the fu­ture of the stu­dents,” he said. Num­ber of years that Mr Ab­dikadir Is­mail, now 46, has worked as a teacher. He was among the top 50 fi­nal­ists in the Global Teacher Prize com­pe­ti­tion.

He started a drama club in the school to cam­paign for peace and in­te­gra­tion among the stu­dents.

“The plays fo­cused on peace and cat­tle rustling, which was one of the ob­struc­tions to learn­ing in the school. It was also a plat­form for them (stu­dents) to speak out about the chal­lenges they were fac­ing,” he said.

The stu­dents started get­ting spon­sor­ships to present their plays. He also started a foot­ball club. “The more the stu­dents ap­pre­ci­ated soc­cer, the more they im­proved in class,” said Mr Is­mail.

He be­came a deputy dis­ci­pline mas­ter to deal with ‘er­rant boys' who would sneak into the vil­lages to drink il­licit brew.

“One day I de­cided to go to the vil­lage to speak with the com­mu­nity. From then on­wards, el­ders be­gan can­ing and re­turn­ing the stu­dents to school when­ever they sneaked out,” he said.

He was trans­ferred to Kirisia Boys Sec­ondary School in Mar­alal, where he dis­cov­ered that most of the stu­dents had dropped out of school due to lack of school fees.

To­gether with a fel­low teacher, the late Asuka

Ondigo, he con­vinced the school prin­ci­pal to start a foot­ball club. He then used the club to get schol­ar­ships for the stu­dents.

“Some stu­dents used to walk for more than 12 kilo­me­tres to and from school. There were mo­rans and young moth­ers; most of them could not af­ford school fees,” said Mr Is­mail.

He then in­tro­duced a Sh50 a day sav­ing plan for their par­ents. Given that school fees at that time was Sh4,500 per term,

Sh50 per day would trans­late to full fees at the end of the term.

“At least at the end of the term they would fin­ish pay­ing. I also re­ceived sup­port from 13 vol­un­teers who de­cided to spon­sor some of the stu­dents,” he said.

His work im­pressed many NGOS, which helped him set up green­houses. These were run by the stu­dents. He also started chicken keep­ing as well as drip ir­ri­gation. “By the time I left the school in 2016, it had be­come a demon­stra­tion cen­tre for the com­mu­nity,” he said.

At Mwangaza Mus­lim Mixed Day School, still in Mar­alal, he in­tro­duced the Sh50 sav­ing cul­ture, but this time round he in­tro­duced a pay­bill num­ber for par­ents to be send­ing the Sh50.

Mr Is­mail is a trainer with the Bri­tish Coun­cil and Mi­cro­soft. “I train teach­ers on com­pe­tency-based cur­ricu­lum, in­for­ma­tion com­mu­ni­ca­tion and tech­nol­ogy in­te­gra­tion.

Mr Ab­dikadir Is­mai, the prin­ci­pal of Mwangaza Mus­lim Sec­ondary School. He has been recog­nised for his ef­forts to pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion among pas­toral­ists.

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