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“A teacher shapes a person to be better, and a teacher shapes a nation to be greater,” Abebesh Goitom, a teacher

Coming from a family that understands the value of education and the importance of raising a girl with confidence and freedom, Abebesh Goitom, a teacher, grew up to become a woman of a strong belief that she can do anything and become anything. Growing up at a time when women were considered to be dependent on men and were good only to be mothers and not leaders, she considers herself lucky. She believes she is who she is and where she is today because of the type of family she was born into.

Working as a teacher for over 40 years, Abebesh has taught at many levels, including the TTI. On the occasion of International Teachers Day, Q&A invites Abebesh for a short chat.

  • Thank you for joining us today. You have been in the teaching profession for over forty years now. What do you have to say about your experience as a teacher?

Teaching means the world to me. Teaching, guiding and cultivating young people means shaping their lives to be better and successful, and that leads to having a great nation. Doctors, engineers, journalists and people in other professions are all taught by a teacher, and that means a teacher is the only person who is connected to everyone. That is how I see the profession. Sharing my knowledge with the younger generation is what I see as one of the biggest opportunities and I try to use it properly. Money isn’t my reward for being a teacher. It is the satisfaction I get when I see my students all grow up and become someone great, and they say hi to me. That gives me glory.

During my teaching years, I was fortunate to have the chance to teach at different levels.

  • How different would you say are teaching young students and training teachers?

To begin with, to be a good teacher one needs to have the undying passion and commitment for it. So, preparing teachers for that kind of profession sure does take a lot. For me working at the TTI (Teachers Training Institute) was a lot easier and better as the students are grownups and listen with attention. I remember that I was able to receive an award for best teacher there. However, the time was during the Derg regime and I was asked to join a campaign and I refused to do so. They accused me of being an accomplice of the “enemy” since my brothers were freedom fighters, and I was asked to stop teaching for a year.

  • After all these years, you’re still teaching. What is the subject you teach?

Well, I will never stop teaching till my last days. That is what I plan to do. But yes, I still teach at Keighbahri Secondary School. I have a strong bond with my students, which I think comes from the open environment techniques I use. I don’t like to have a class filled with stress; students should be free to express their minds. There isn’t a weak student; everyone has their strengths and that is the way I see it.

My subject is Family and Consumer Science. It is a vast subject which makes it interesting. It talks about family, friendship, biology, customer services, health matters and, most interesting of all, it talks about the gender equality that needs to be enforced throughout the world.

Even though the subject is connected with everything and the daily activities of a person, only the art stream students take the subject because of the shortage of staff that we have. Hopefully, the Department will be expanded so that everyone can lean the subject in the future.

  • This year’s theme, “Young teachers: the future of the profession”, what are the legacies passed on from the veteran teachers to the young ones.

A teacher is like a candle, melting away to give light. Teachers are responsible for the development of a nation and a society. Killing education is killing a nation, and that starts with a teacher. In my opinion, a teacher, old or young, has to fulfill teaching’s basic needs — passion and commitment. I believe that a nation is built by the young generation and that is what this year’s theme implies. Nonetheless, those young teachers need to be satisfied and f e e l comfortable with the basic needs in their lives. That is when they can fully focus on the profession. Also, the legacy we pass on to the younger generation is to have the ultimate patriotism and cultivate successful citizens.

  • You are also a volunteering member at the Teachers Association. What is the association’s role in the development of Eritrean teachers?

I have been nominated by the teachers three times, which will be my 9th year now. The Association works to bring teachers together and works for the advancement of the teacher’s association. Just like other institutions we are now carrying out projects and research undertakings the teachers could take part in. We trust that our teachers need to increase their knowledge and upgrade their skills through workshops and short-term courses. Especially female teachers with kids need to be at ease with their situation. We are working on a program to establish daycare for their kids so that they can focus on teaching 100%.

  • Any last few words?

I would like to say that being a teacher is something that I have loved and cherished my entire life. I also would like to remind every young teacher that it is their responsibility to build a society that is well mannered and have the will to be educated. In order to do that a teacher has to endure many challenges and deal with different personalities. However, at the very end, it is a glorious joy to see your students get to be successful. You have shaped a person to be better; you have shaped a nation to be great. That is the meaning of being a teacher, and we all should work hard to maintain our strong efforts to make an impact on someone’s life.

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