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A lesson for the teacher

By | April 18th 2012

By Nicholas Cheruiyot

After going through my university education I was very upbeat about prospects of landing a job. I am a teacher of English and Literature. The subjects were my favourite while in secondary school. The fact that the subject teachers were in high demand also drove me to specialise in them.

Unfortunately, my graduation coincided with a period of government’s freeze on teacher recruitment. However, many schools desperately needed English and Literature teachers. I therefore effortlessly landed a teaching job employed by the board of governors at a school within our district. The pay was poor but I had no options.

heart broken

Then came the advertisements for a few teaching posts on contract. I dusted my resume in readiness for the interviews. However, the interviews I attended were so heart breaking. Many better qualified jobseekers who had graduated much earlier than me came with impressive CVs.

My competitors teased me for turning up for interviews when I was too fresh from campus. "Why waste your money and time running around for interviews when your time to be absorbed is too far," one smartly dressed job seeker asked me. It was only one year after I had graduated and I thought the lucky star might shine on me. It was not to be.

The interviews had drained my savings and sapped my energy. Fortunately I managed to get over the demoralising situation. I resumed teaching at the school where I had been hired.

One morning I received a message from my former campus roommate, Maina who informed me that he had found a man who could get me employed.

I almost laughed off Maina’s plan as I had heard stories of conmen using similar tactics. I only gave it a serious thought when he assured me that I would not be required to part with money until I got hold of an appointment letter. "You will only spend some coins photocopying your testimonials," Maish, as I fondly called him, assured me.

He then forwarded me Caleb’s contacts, the man who was to get me a job. When I contacted Caleb, he said all he needed was my academic papers and a commitment that I would pay Sh70,000 after receiving my appointment letter.

I sent him my testimonials and waited for a word from him. After exactly one month, Caleb called to say he had my letter. We met one sunny morning at a town near my home.

letter at last

"Congrats," Caleb told me as he handed over the letter to me. The letter looked genuine. The Teachers Service Commission (TSC) letterhead was clear as well as my full names. I wanted to jump and tell the whole world that I had finally landed a job. Caleb demanded that I pay him within two weeks. I undertook to do so.

Back at the school, everyone including our head teacher concurred that the letter was genuine. I threw a little party to celebrate with my colleagues. My fellow teachers showered me with praise for getting the prized job.

Now the headache of how to pay Caleb was weighing on me heavily. Luckily, I had invested in a bull sometime back. I was fattening it and was planning to sell it later. This was the time to sell it. I also convinced my father to sell one from his stock. The whole amount was soon realised and I sent all that I owed Caleb through Mpesa.

My head teacher immediately stopped my salary. "It will amount to double pay for the same job," the head teacher curtly told me the next morning. I had the option of applying for an imprest that was to be repaid in full once my salary starts flowing, he explained. However, the thought of getting a huge lump sum in delayed salary thrilled me that I banished the thought of borrowing from the school. I decided to operate on a shoestring budget.

Then one fine morning, the head teacher summoned me. "You were conned!" my boss broke the startling news as I entered his office. He had included my name in the regular returns to TSC only for him to be informed that I was a stranger to the body. As if that was not enough, he informed me that he had been instructed to ensure I report to the district education office for interrogation on how I sourced the forged letter.

On stepping out of the office, I dialled Caleb’s number but all I got was an irritating message that the number was no longer in service. I almost broke down when I thought of the losses and shame that the fraud had put me to.

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