Dennis Njomo has challenged the stereotype that teaching kindergarten is reserved for women by becoming one of two male Early Childhood Development Education (ECDE) teachers in Murang’a East sub-county.
Teacher Njomo, 30 years old, stated that teaching young children has always been his career of choice adding that he has never considered a different line of work.
“Teaching nursery school children has always been my passion,” he said adding that even though it has been a female-dominated career with men generally avoiding it, it was his dream occupation. Njomo is currently teaching at Kabwe ECDE center in Kiharu
Njomo said when he reported to the school, parents, teachers and pupils were surprised and were eager to see how he would cope adding that some parents stayed at the school just to see how he would handles their children.
“They said they have never seen a male teacher in the nursery school and some of them waited in the school compound to see how I will handle their children,” he said, adding, “They have now embraced me and are comfortable with me teaching their children,” he added.
Njomo says the female teacher he found at the centre retired months after he reported and he had to handle the kids all by himself.
Prior to joining Kabwe ECDE, he taught at Gathukiini, Gaitheri, Gakoe and Ngechu primary schools where he was contracted by parents to teach lower primary classes.
Although it has had its challenges, Njomo says he enjoys every bit of interacting and teaching the children adding that having a male figure in class creates balance in the growth of the child.
“Sometimes the kids need to have their clothes changed but I can only handle the boys: we bath them and dress them in the spare uniform we have in the class,” he said.
“I work closely with a female colleague in grade one, to help me clean up girls if they need to be bathed after which I wash their uniform and pack it in their bag to take home,” Njomo added.
He however says that he has met a lot of deterrence from his close friends and family who were discouraging him from taking this career path but he decided to prove them wrong.
“I lost some friends after I joined ECDE teaching because they felt this was not a job for a man,” Njomo said.
Njomo urges the society to embrace people like him who take the apparently unusual jobs saying some people still pushed him to get a different job.
“At times when I go to gatherings and introduce myself as a nursery school teacher people take it as a joke but this does not weaken my spirit,” he added.
Njomo who holds a certificate in ECDE stated that he is now pursuing a diploma to upgrade his education and improve his skills in dealing with the small children.
Kabwe Primary School Head Teacher Michael Muchoki says he could observe some differences between the children that Njomo has taught compared to those handled by other teachers there before.
Muchoki said Njomo is a devoted teacher who is very conversant with the new Competence Based Curriculum and he is giving the best to the ECDE children.
The head teacher admitted that he was surprised to get a male teacher posted to the nursery school, but says Njomo has proved his competence over the years.
“He is one of our own and we even give him responsibilities in the primary school, a role he takes up so well,” Muchoki stated.
Catherine Njeri, whose child is in PP1 at the school said her child was always eager to go to school which she attributed to good relationship with the teacher.
“My daughter loves the teacher so much and she cannot miss school unless she is unwell,” remarked Njeri.
Njeri said her daughter is able to understand what she learns in class and she is able to tell it all when she gets home from school.
Grace Njoroge, the ECDE Coordinator in Murang’a East stated that there were only two male nursery school teachers in the entire sub county.
Njoroge describes Njomo as an exceptional teacher who was doing a good job in molding the young children. “He is zealous about his job and I have never received a complaint about him,” she said.
Njoroge urged other young men not to shy away from choosing such careers saying when advertising for jobs, opportunities were open to both male and female teachers.
By Anita Omwenga and Purity Mugo