When you passed out from the National youth service corps, you came back home with mixed feelings. You knew you had automatically joined the labour market. Unlike a few of your colleagues who had high-class jobs waiting for them after service, there was no job waiting for you. So you didn’t waste time in hitting the streets with your CV in search of any job that will put food on your table.
Two months of search left you drained and frustrated. You came to terms with the reality that there are no jobs in Nigeria.
When someone linked you up with a private school proprietress aunt who told you, “come and teach in my school. I will pay you N15,000 every month. It is better than nothing. At least you will have something that will take you out of the house every day”, you jumped at the offer. You were sick and tired of staying at home doing nothing. You were sick and tired of being dependent on your parents for pocket money and every single necessity.
You started teaching in the private school. The first week was exciting and you couldn’t wait to get your salary at the end of the month. It felt good being a salary earner. But as the weeks went by, the work started taking its toll on you. The stress of writing lesson notes, marking scripts, marking notebooks, teaching many subjects and classes, teaching extra lessons, the constant noise from the pupils, the physical exertion in shouting, flogging etc became a source of concern to you. You would leave the house before 7 am and come back at 5 pm, totally drained.
By dinner time, you would be too tired to do anything else for yourself. You had to take a pain reliever to assuage a banging headache that follows you home every day. You would go to bed with your alarm clock on. You had to wake up in the night to prepare lesson notes and mark scripts.
You realised that you had to be on your toes all the time. You had to be at the school before 7 am. Lateness attracted deduction of some amount of money from your meagre salary. You had to submit lesson notes for assessment by the head teacher, there were so many rules to be observed. You realised that you were in a vicious cycle, working off your bones to put food on the table.
The day you went to the bank to open a new salary account for your teaching job, you saw a colleague of yours who used to be an unserious student in the university. She had graduated with a third rate degree. You saw her in a lovely skirt suit, looking radiant, sitting on a swivel chair in the air-conditioned office and working on the workstation in front of her. You quickly dodged from her because you felt ashamed. You didn’t want her to see you and inquire which company you are working for.
You have realized that there is no future for you in the private school. Some of your coworkers have been there for years. They keep lamenting to you about the meagre salary that cannot take them home. When you suggest they could leave the job, they always end up saying; “it is better than nothing. At least it takes you out of the house every day.”
You keep searching for jobs both online and offline to no avail. There are no good jobs in your city. The few jobs available are low paying teaching jobs, filling station attendant jobs and hotel jobs. The teaching jobs you dream of, are those in elite schools for children of the elite class, where teachers are paid N40,000 and above, coupled with incentives and handouts from the benevolent parents.
When you bump into your colleagues on the streets, you discuss the latest employment opportunities in the city. You exchange phone numbers, promising to relate to each other information on job openings that you might come into contact with in the nearest future.
When you ruminate on your plans and goals, you get depressed because you are nowhere close to realising them. You are not getting any younger and your meagre salary can barely sustain you.
One day you resolve that you have had enough of the stress. The proprietress had humiliated you in front of your students. You flared up and told her that you were calling it quits. You won’t be coming back to the school the next day. She mocked you. She told you she would see if you had the heart to do it.
You went back home sad. That night, you cried yourself to sleep.
You woke up the next morning and found yourself preparing for work. As you wore the customary teacher’s outfit, the voice in your head mocked you for not carrying on with your threat of resigning.
You silently agreed with the voice. You are a coward.
As you walked into the school, the gate man greeted you and inquired, “I thought you said you were not coming back again”.
You quietly addressed him and at the same time consoled yourself, “This job is better than nothing, at least it is something that takes you out of the house every day.”
Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Duncan Marshall