The silent pain for teachers

What you need to know:

  • The pressures of the teaching profession can sometimes be overwhelming.

Being a teacher is not just a job. It is a calling. In Tanzania, just like in other parts of the world, the teaching profession carries with it a profound sense of duty and commitment.

For many, teachers are not just instructors in a classroom; they are pillars of the community, guiding lights in the vast sea of life.

Their influence extends far beyond the confines of educational institutions.

No wonder society often looks up to teachers as almost superhuman.

To children, a teacher is not just an individual standing at the front of a class but is seen as a pillar of strength, endless knowledge, and protector from many life uncertainties.

Yet, beneath the routine of lessons and exams, lies a fundamental truth: teachers are also human beings.

They feel joy and sadness, have hopes and fears, and ride the same rollercoaster of life as others.

It’s heart-wrenching to hear stories like that of Teacher Benedicto, a dedicated secondary school teacher from Ileje in the Songwe region, who, after a fierce battle with depression, tragically decided to end his life.

His untimely passing is a reminder that no profession, no matter how revered, is immune to the human struggles that affect us all.

As teachers, society celebrates our potential to mould future leaders, guide them, and enlighten them.

Yet, amidst these accolades, it’s easy to overlook that we are also human beings, moulded by our personal experiences. Our past plays a role in shaping our present.

The pressures of the teaching profession can sometimes be overwhelming: the relentless pursuit of academic excellence, addressing students’ individual needs, manoeuvring through administrative red tape, and concurrently managing personal challenges such as family issues, relationships, health, etc.

The loss of Teacher Benedicto isn’t just a tragedy for his immediate family and school.

It resonates with teachers everywhere and is a reminder of our shared responsibilities.

We must be vigilant, compassionate, and supportive of one another.

While teaching is rightfully termed a ‘noble profession’, it’s essential to understand that nobility also comes with its fair share of hardships.

For the teaching community to thrive, we need to foster an environment of trust and understanding where teachers can share their struggles (professional or personal) without judgment.

While we continuously strive to improve our teaching methods, it’s equally crucial to emphasise the emotional well-being of educators.

As teachers, although we are often lighting the way for others, there are moments when we also need someone to guide us out of the darkness.

Let’s be that beacon of hope for one another. The effect of a teacher’s influence cannot be overstated. For instance, every word of encouragement and every kind word spoken leaves an unforgettable mark on children and shapes the future of nations.

That’s a significant burden to bear, and it’s a weight carried not just on the shoulders but deep within the soul of every educator.

However, there is another facet of the teaching world that often remains hidden from view: the personal struggles, the silent battles, and the mental health.

The tragic story of Teacher Benedicto forces us to reflect deeply on the systemic and personal pressures placed on educators.

Mental health awareness and resources need to be at the forefront of conversations in all facets of society.

Recognising the signs of mental distress, offering counselling services, and even incorporating well-being sessions can go a long way in fostering healthier, more resilient communities.

World Suicide Prevention Day, observed on September 10 every year, holds immense significance in drawing attention to the concern of suicide.

Let’s strive for a world where every teacher knows they aren’t alone, where every challenge faced has a support system ready to help, and where the luminous torch of education is carried forward by individuals who are not just revered but genuinely cared for.