When growing up, Evelyn Kansiime was very passionate about teaching.
As soon as she completed her studies in 2009, she applied to become a teacher at Kiguma primary school in Kabarole district.
“I started teaching in 2010 and it was all fun only that I was very arrogant and tough to the children,” Kansiime recalls.
“Every child feared me at school and I would teach without anyone disturbing me throughout my lessons. Even the little ones that I did not teach feared me including some teachers.”
She adds that over time, parents complained about her actions including caning learners endlessly while others threatened to change their children to other schools. And, she was not ready to change.
In 2014, the district education officer in Kabarole transferred her to Karambi primary school with a stern warning against corporal punishments or risk cancellation of her teaching certificate.
“It is at Karambi that I decided to change. I learnt about positive discipline and I neither caned nor barked at the children again,” says the primary seven teacher of Science and English language.
Last week, Kansiime was one of the 20 teachers that were recognised by Raising Voices, a civil society organisation, for creating a condusive learning environment for children at school under the Good School programme.
The programme focuses on ideas and activities that do not require dedicated financial resources – just commitment and perseverance to create something extraordinary in a school.
According to Yvone Laruni, a senior programme officer at Raising Voices, teachers like Kansiime were selected through essays written by learners in their schools.
“There is no doubt that teachers go through a lot while executing their duties. Sometimes, their efforts go unrecognised but we decided to encourage them through simple rewards to work even harder,” Laruni said at Metropole hotel in Kololo during the rewarding ceremony.
She said learners from primary three to seven were asked to write one or half-page essays about their favourite teachers and what makes them unique. In total, Raising Voices received 689 essays from 19 schools in districts including Lira, Luweero, Kabarole, Kampala and Jinja.
Out of the 190 essays submitted from schools in Kabarole, one was written by a student from Karambi primary school and earned Kansiime a certificate and bag.
“I feel honoured by this recognition. If you don’t handle children with love, they will run away from you. I even don’t know which child wrote about me but I am so grateful,” Kansiime said, urging teachers to stop corporal punishments because they don't improve learners.
Mary Angella Naddamba, an education officer from the ministry of Education and sports, commended Raising Voices for rewarding primary teachers and urged them to extend similar efforts to secondary schools.
“The ground has been leveled for primary but we are battling with secondary school teachers about corporal punishments. Some of them mostly in big schools in Kampala have been jailed because of being violent,” Naddamba said.
She added: “When you are violent as a teacher, you [demonstrate] indiscipline. So, you pass on your very bad manners to the learners, and in the end, you pass on your emotional feelings to the children. This is not acceptable.”
She urged teachers to nurture holistic children professionally in order to impact on their lives in future.