- Only eight pupils came accompanied by their parents who begged us to admit them with a promise to pay before end of the holidays.
If wishes were horses, I would be a beggar riding one – in London.
You see, had things gone as expected, this August, I was supposed to be leading a high-powered delegation of Mwisho wa Lami people in London.
Unfortunately, something happened, and I am here for holidays, without much to do.
Many years ago, we would be doing holiday tuition, but you know this government, it banned tuition.
Students were happy because they would now get some rest; parents were happy since they wouldn’t be asked to pay anymore. The only people who did not like the ban were the HMs like Bensouda.
Although she never teaches any class, during holidays, she would come to school every day – to collect money.
This money however never reached us. She would then claim that Mwisho wa Lami parents never pay. “Mwisho wa Lami parents walirogwa (bewitched), they never pay fees.”
Following the ban of holiday tuition, our performance has been going down year in year out.
Every term a teacher suggests that we do holiday tuition, but the idea is shot down. Even last term. This term, the suggestion came from some parents – through Bensouda.
Bensouda asked me to introduce the motion in a staff meeting. I did not feel like it, but how could I go against Bensouda?
“I agree with Dre, we should give it a try in August for one week and [see] if it works,” she said, after I had introduced the topic.
“That will only happen under my dead body,” said Saphire. “I don’t want to be arrested.”
“I will be visiting my husband in Nairobi this August, so count me out,” said Mrs Atika. “I think we need to give it a try. All of us will be happy if our school emerges top in KCPE,” I added.
NAYS HAVE IT
Saphire laughed out loud. “Dre, don’t pretend you are concerned how we perform in KCPE.”
“Do you think anyone will remember you even if we perform well?” wondered Madam Ruth.
The matter proceeded for voting and only Bensouda, Kuya and I voted for it. The nays had it. A day before schools closed, Lena and I talked.
“Dre, although we refused to teach during holidays,” she started, “I agree with you that most parents are still interested in tuition. What do we do?”
When I told her we could not do much, she said: “Since many of these parents are willing to pay and we can’t assist them here, why don’t we think about starting our own private tuition at home?”
I told her that I didn’t think it was a good idea. “Dre, we will make money; I tell you,” she said.
That evening, I carried out an opinion poll to establish if parents would be interested in holiday tuition.
“You teachers should have holiday preps,” Nyayo told me as soon as I arrived at Hitler’s for evening classes. I told him that the government had banned tuition.
“We are not ready to sit with the children at home,” said Alphayo. “You teachers should deal with them. Si mnalipwa?”
“Me, there is no way I will sit with this rude boy around,” said Rasto. “I am ready to pay anyone to be with that rascal over the holidays.”
The evening the school closed, I went to see Lena and told her that the Holiday tuition opportunity was massive.
“I told you!” she exclaimed. I suggested we do tuition from Class One to Eight.
“Don’t invite everyone,” Lena advised. “Let us focus on Class Six to Eight only so that we are taken seriously.”
That evening, we started arrangements to open the tuition centre: Dre-Lena Academic Ventures.
Since my former house in my father’s compound was unused, we converted two rooms into classrooms. We procured another room from my brother Ford’s simba.
I wrote a few posters which I placed at strategic places in Mwisho wa Lami and Lena and I informed any parents that we met about our tuition plans.
Our charges were very modest: Sh400 per student per week for Class Eight and Sh300 for Class Six and Seven.
We put up a large blackboard in my parents’ home: Drelena Academic Campus: Experts in holiday tuition, exam setting, marking; and mock revision.
Come last Monday, only eight pupils came accompanied by their parents who begged us to admit them with a promise to pay before end of the holidays.
We admitted the pupils and started the tuition in earnest. On that day, we put all in one classroom.
On hearing that we had allowed pupils who did not have money, more students came on Tuesday. In total, I think we had about 25 pupils, which grew to 40 on Wednesday, most coming from neighbouring schools.
We now had three classes. I handled Class Eight, Lena took over Class Seven, and on that Wednesday, we invited Fiolina to handle Class Six. Any other pupil who came was put in Class Six.
We came to learn that parents did not care whether teaching was going on or not – all they cared about was that the students were away from home.
By Thursday, the numbers hit 50, and we started smelling Sh45,000 – albeit from far. Only Sh2,320 had been collected.
Last Friday evening, Mrs Atika, who had said she had a trip to Nairobi, came to see us.
She said she was very idle and asked if we could let her handle one of the classes. We told her we had sufficient resources.
Of all the people, Saphire also called me that evening asking to be considered. “I know you have no teachers for lower classes. Huku nje kumekauka brother,” he pleaded.
Saphire was clearly looking for some money for a drink. We could not admit any other teacher. I had already budgeted for this money.
Since her contribution was minimal, I would give Lena Sh2,000. The rest will be for me and Fiolina, the laugh of my life.
And you all know once I get it, she would have got it as well! Let’s talk in late August when I am loaded!